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OCHO RIOS, St. Ann, Jamaica; Monday, July 27, 2020: Employees of some of Jamaica’s leading tourist attractions have expressed gratitude to be able to return to work and told Tourism Minister Hon Edmund Bartlett, that they were eager to be back playing their role in rebuilding the tourism sector.
Mr Bartlett toured attractions in the Ocho Rios area, along the North Coast Resilient Corridor recently. He heard first-hand, overwhelming expressions of appreciation from workers, who welcomed the recent decision to reopen COVID-19 compliant attractions effective July 21, 2020. A number of the entities are currently receiving strong support from local patrons.
While awaiting final Cabinet approval for attractions impacted negatively by the COVID-19 pandemic to reopen to international patrons, Minister Bartlett and ministry officials visited Mystic Mountain, Dolphin Cove and Chukka Caribbean Adventures to check their levels of compliance with stipulated protocols and equipment to manage the spread of the virus.
At all three, he was warmly greeted by staff members expressing their excitement to be able to return to work. Their sentiments were encapsulated by Team Leader at Chukka, Alicia Green. “We want to thank you for freeing up tourism so we can all have our jobs back,” she said, supported by resounding applause from her co-workers. “We promise to follow all protocols to remain COVID-free and to have a wonderful time,” she added.
Minister Bartlett underscored that: “We have been opening the industry in a very carefully structured and strategized way” and “we want to ensure also that in the process the jobs come back.”
He expressed deep satisfaction with what he had seen, adding that the partnership between tourism and health was paramount in overcoming the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. While underscoring the importance of health security to the hospitality industry, he stressed the need for tourism to be seen as part of the solution.
Noting that “tourism is the heartbeat of the country”, he expressed that visitors don’t just come here to have a drink and then to move on but to expand the Jamaican market and enable producers to have a larger group of people to feed and to provide goods and services for. “Tourism expands the demand for goods and services and enables jobs, jobs and more jobs as a result,” proclaimed Minister Bartlett.
He said it was important to underscore that point “because I believe there is a ‘disconnect’ in the minds of our people in relation to this industry” which, it is now being realised, impacts so many other industries that are forced to close when tourism shuts down.
Director of Chukka, John Byles, said “I want to express how grateful we are to be seeing that our jobs are coming back, that we have the opportunity to work.”
Mr. Byles, who is also Chairman of the joint public-private sector COVID-19 resilient corridor management team, underscored that “all of us in the private sector commit to joining the partnership. We see it as us protecting ourselves by helping with the surveillance, the enforcement; to help with the entire programme of ensuring compliance.”