As Jamaica anticipates the return of cruise ships, Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, is imploring workers in the sector to sign up now to receive the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.
“Cruise shipping is an integral part of our tourism product and an important driver in terms of visitor arrivals and expenditure. Thousands of Jamaicans depend on the cruise ship industry, and we look forward to its return,” he said in an interview with JIS News.
“Tourism workers must always remember that they are valuable frontline workers who have a critical role to play in restoring the national economy and their own state of well-being. They must therefore play their part in helping to overcome the current setback created by the COVID-19 pandemic by taking the vaccine,” he added.
The global cruise industry has cautiously resumed its voyages with new rules and guidelines to ensure that they can sail safely.
A total of 190 cruise ships, representing 65 different brands, are expected to take to the seas in August, with an average of approximately 1,500 guests each.
Minister Bartlett said that under the new guidelines almost every cruise passenger and crew will be required to be fully vaccinated.
He noted further that with several countries lifting their ban on cruise shipping and cruise lines anxious to recover lost ground, it is the ports of call which meet the strict health and safety protocols that will be first in line to receive vessels.
As such, he said it is important that workers within the sector, particularly those who have been displaced since the 16-month absence of vessels from the seas, do the right thing “for self and country”.
Minister Bartlett noted that Jamaica has been credited for its proactive approach in developing protocols for the tourism industry as well as the resilient corridors and these have enabled the reopening of the tourism sector with a positivity rate of less than 1.0 per cent.
“It is now time for the cruise subsector to also play its part as we follow a strategic path in reimagining the tourism sector to rebuild faster, stronger and better,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Minister Bartlett said that although cruise activities at Jamaica’s ports have been inactive for the past year and a half “we continue to invest in the development of cruise tourism, which is critical to the recovery of the tourism sector”.
He noted that Jamaica Vacations Limited (JAMVAC) “has been driving this effort as we pivot in this crisis to take advantage of a new collaborative approach that will bring greater value for passengers, cruise lines and destination Jamaica”.
Mr. Bartlett said the Ministry of Tourism will be “working relentlessly”, particularly in partnership with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), the Ministries of Health and Wellness, and Local Government and Rural Development to facilitate the vaccination of tourism workers across the island.