Saturday 15 August, 2020

Bartlett says UNCTAD report justifies reopening of tourism industry

Edmund Bartlett

Edmund Bartlett

Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, says a recent report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) projecting that the Jamaican economy will suffer the worst hit as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism, underscores the need to restore the sector by reopening on a phased basis and in a safe manner.

Jamaica’s tourism reopening started on a phased basis on June 15.

The UNCTAD report outlined that the world’s tourism sector could lose at least US$1.2 trillion or 1.5 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP), having been placed at a standstill for nearly four months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The UNCTAD report estimated that Jamaica's economy stands to decline by 11 per cent, ahead of Thailand (-9 per cent), Croatia (-8 per cent), Portugal (-6 per cent) and the Dominican Republic (-5 per cent), to name a few states.

“As I recently indicated in Parliament, restoring our tourism sector is a matter of economic life and death. The reality is that Jamaica’s economy is dependent on the tourism industry. It contributes 50 per cent of the foreign exchange earnings of the economy and generates 354,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs,” Bartlett stated.

He further indicated that “Sadly, most of our tourism workers have been displaced due to the pandemic. So the UNCTAD report underscores the fact that we have to restore the sector as quickly as possible to reverse the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s GDP.”

In fact, the tourism minister argued that “the report also comes against the background of our own projections that Jamaica is expected to lose Ja$146 billion from April 2020 to March 2021, due to the downturn in tourism caused by COVID-19.”

Bartlett said with the projection that July will be a strong month for stopover arrivals, the newly designed protocols should provide a seamless entry into the island for tourists and Jamaicans.

“The month of July, which promises to show the strongest surge of recovery, must be managed well, and the new protocols that we have introduced are designed to enable a more seamless entry of Jamaicans and visitors alike,” he emphasised.

“The appointment of a new Resilient Corridor management team, led by Mr John Byles, further underpins the surveillance and compliance of entities along the corridor, and is an added step as we seek to secure the integrity of the process and continue to safeguard the health and well-being of our people," added Bartlett.

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