KINGSTON – Effective Monday, June 15th, 2020, The Jamaican Government will be transitioning into the newest phase of re-opening their economy, especially their renowned tourism sector. According to a release on the website of the U.S. State Department, Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), “Jamaica is far advance in its planned opening of borders for the approximately 5000 to 6000 visitors/tourists expected to arrive within the first few weeks by air travel. However, the Jamaican Government has announced that all visitors/tourists will be mandated to undergo coronavirus testing upon entry to the country reverting on an earlier decision to allow this to be a voluntary procedure.
Frankly speaking, the turmoil on the global economy caused by the current pandemic has literally restarted the “timing-belt” of the tourism industry worldwide. The Jamaican Government is now tasked with re-creating a re-entry program whereby tourists, Jamaican citizens and the private sector business can safely and strategically resume their respective businesses. Irregardless of one’s dominant belief system or opinion regarding the fight against COVID-19; the fact of the matter is that Jamaica “a tourism powerhouse” is a “sitting duck” if they fail to re-open their borders. Based on current global dialogue pertaining to the re-opening of borders by governments worldwide and the implications for the further outbreak of COVID-19 cases, the question remains what does this new development mean for Jamaica and its own industry? What are the risks and opportunities for the country at this new juncture?
According to the latest statistics published on Saturday, June 13th, 2020 coming from the Ministry of Health and Wellness website; Jamaica currently has Six Hundred and Fourteen (614) confirmed cases of the COVID-19 Virus. The reality of the situation is with the re-opening of borders, the risk of the number of positive cases rising is quite high. The greater issue at play here however, is whether the pro’s outweigh the cons and whether the opportunities of reopening the tourism industry is better than the risks of a second major outbreak in Jamaica.
Consequently, with the date set and the borders set to reopen It is imperative for the strategist to remember that “proper timing” is the key to any possible relief from the continued spread of COVID-19. The same proactive defensive mechanisms that were put in place at the start of the outbreak worldwide helped to slow the pace at which it came to our shores and was successful largely due to the ‘timing’ by which those measures were implemented. Needless to say that the Ministry of Health and Wellness should focus proactively on the areas where the risk of spread is greater than others. i.e work spaces and other frequent public gatherings. Once this is maintained then the re-opening of the borders for the benefit of the tourism industry in Jamaica is more of a manageable risk rather than a detrimental one.