December 31, 2021 | By Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie |
The very valuable and popular vacation period (tourist season) has started from December 15th and continues to mid April. In the Caribbean this is for such small developing states a time to boost income from foreign exchange and pay down debts.
This week the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) has upgraded Jamaica from tier three to tier two due to the countries high standard of dealing with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This upgrade recommends that travellers to Jamaica must be fully vaccinated.
It was Rising Stars winner Mr. Christopher Martin who sang the very popular song entitled “It Is A Big Deal” we are not sure what he was referencing in his song nor if it was an original … what we can say is it was indeed a big hit and so is the impact of the CDC’s upgrade a big deal to Jamaica’s economic recovery feeling the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since January 2021 the Tourism Minister Hon. Edmund Bartlett has reported that some 65 percent of Tourism workers are back on the job and US$1.5 billion has been earned. The tourism industry has certainly been on the upturn. This tier two designation could not have come at a more critical time for the industry’s recovery.
The concept of a resilient corridor has been hailed internationally as an resounding success. There has been a very small level of recorded infections due to the effectiveness and high standards set by this corridor on the North Coast, Jamaica’s mecca for tourism.
About 70 percent of Tourism workers are fully vaccinated. This is possibly the highest percentage for any single industry on the Island. Individual properties have made it their duty to make the vaccination of their front line staff a priority. This policy initiative has worked. It is not mandatory, but the workers have been effectively communicated with and have bought into the vaccination scheme.
The Ministry of health has reported that at least 70 percent of seniors aged 60 and over are fully vaccinated. This is a vulnerable group that is responsible for a very high percentage of deaths and hospitalizations.
This is a big boost to our tourism and economic recovery.
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is a poet, elegist, author and senior international journalist who writes for Vision Newspaper.