On Sunday, August 15, Jamaica received the one million-stopover foreign visitor. The count started since the borders reopened in June 2020 after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic caused the three-month closure.
Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, and Director of Tourism, Donovan White, welcomed Daynel Williams. Ms Williams is the first to cross the one million international visitors mark at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St. James.
Ms Williams, together with her children, five-year-old Keona and 12-month-old Keon Francis, and her parents, Austin and Jennifer Williams, came on JetBlue flight 1179 from New York, USA.
In an interview through JIS, Minister Bartlet had this to say, “The training that we did with our workers, the provision of personal protective equipment and also… the infrastructure needed in hotels and everywhere else, [certifying] our properties based on the [level of] compliance with COVID-19 protocols and establishing the [resilient] corridor, which was a huge game-changer, really enhanced the confidence that the market had in us,”
It is important to note that the pandemic caused significant job loss across the tourism sector. Reopening our borders to visitors has allowed the filling of over 50,000 jobs in the industry. Since reopening our borders last year, the industry has been reopening. Steadily, the tourism sector is becoming a fully staffed sector again.
Tourism Sector Ready for Next Visitor
Jamaica has earned about $1.5 billion in foreign currency profits since June 2020 from the industry’s stopover tourists.
“So, when we examine what tourism has done, [it] gives me a sense of pride that, in this quarter under review, tourism arrivals and earnings increased [significantly]. So, we have no doubt as to the impact of tourism,” Mr Bartlett said.
Mr Bartlett said that Jamaica’s robust economic growth during the first quarter of the 2021-22 fiscal year is due to the continuous influx of visitors through the tourism sector. In a recent report, Dr the Honourable Nigel Clarke, the Minister of Finance and the Public Service shared this sentiment.