Jamaica expected its 10th consecutive year of tourism growth judging from January and February figures which showed an increase by 5.2 percent with 4.5 million arrivals at the end of the year.
But COVID-19 stopped that growth dramatically and, following a worldwide travel shutdown, Jamaica, like everywhere else, had to pivot and adapt new protocols and procedures to restart its tourism industry.
This was top of mind during the 30th edition of JAPEX (Jamaica Product Exchange), which took place virtually from Nov. 9-10.
Since reopening to international visitors in mid-June, Jamaica has successfully navigated the difficult balance of safety for locals and tourists while providing an attractive tourism product. Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s tourism minister, said the island welcomed 211,000 international tourists between June and September, which generated tourism revenue of around US$231 million.
Optimistically, most of the major airlines serving the destination are increasing service as the demand picks up, including American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, United, Southwest, Air Canada, and WestJet.
Jamaica has operated its reopening by designating “resilient corridors” from Negril to Port Antonio and along the northern coast while the other stretches west from Milk River to Negril.
In addition to containing tourists and protecting residents, all hotels in the corridors have been COVID-19 certified and approved, with protocols carried out by trained staff. It also allows tourists to stay in multiple accommodations within that corridor, if they wish, and enjoy the attractions there as well.