‘Resilient’ Jamaica Will Have 258,000 Air Seats From Canada This Winter

Canadian tour operators and airlines have given Jamaica a huge vote of confidence for the coming winter, reserving 258,000 seats for the destination, over 80% of the 305,000 seats on offer in the pre-2019 pandemic.

The popular travel destination was one of the first to welcome tourists again on June 15, 2020. Since then, it has kept its limits open continuously through an innovative approach called the “Resilient Corridor”.

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The corridor is a demarcated “bubble” that allows Jamaica to manage and track tourist movements along the highway from Negril through Port Antonio on the island’s north coast. In this area, says Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, 85% of the country’s tourism experience lies. New corridors have also recently been added along the south coast.

In Jamaica, COVID transmission rates continue to be high outside the corridors. On September 9th, the US Centers for Disease Control raised their travel destination warning to Level 4 – Don’t Travel. But this designation is based on the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants and does not reflect the success of the tourism-dependent island’s efforts to – as Bartlett puts it – “balance life and livelihood”.

TravelPulse Canada met with Bartlett, Director of Tourism Donovan White, Senior Tourism Strategist Delano Seiveright and Jamaica Tourist Board Regional Director Canada Angella Bennett last week as she made a series of visits to tour operators, airlines, travel consultants and the media in the US and Canada.

Officials proudly pointed out that since it reopened last June, the level of COVID positivity within the tourism corridor has been less than 1%. The island has welcomed more than a million visitors and generated sales of over $ 1 billion during that time. Bartlett says that means 60,000 Jamaicans are back to work.

“Managing during the uncertainty is a daunting task,” said Bartlett. “But we were guided by science and data. The resilient corridor is a tool that we are very proud of. It could have gone better, but I suspect that the opposite is also the case. “

Extensive training and vaccinations for workers, the provision of personal protective equipment, contact tracing systems, and limited curfews have played a role in protecting visitors and Jamaicans in the nearly 16 months since the island’s borders reopened.

To get a feel for how this is affecting the visitor experience, TravelPulse Canada spoke to Sonya Thomas, an independent agent for The Travel Agent Next Door and a huge fan of Jamaica’s tourism product. Thomas visited the island for a week in September 2020 and then returned for two weeks in August and September of that year.

“The logs were amazing,” says Thomas. “I felt more comfortable than in my own country.”

According to Thomas, there were extensive protocols from the airport to the resort, including mask requirements during transit, luggage hygiene, temperature controls, rooms that were disinfected and sealed before guests arrived, and buffets served by staff.

“I am very confident about selling Jamaica. They take everything very seriously, ”said Thomas.

She has some concerns about the future as she cites the extensive use of QR codes to access restaurant menus and other services, which can be intimidating, especially for older travelers who make up a large part of her customer base.

Another concern is the cost of PCR testing that Canadians may need to return home. Thomas says they can cost more than $ 100 per person at Jamaican resorts, a potential obstacle for travelers on a budget. The pre-trip antigen test costs about $ 40 in Canada.

Current Jamaica entry protocols, regardless of vaccination status, require completing an online travel authorization form within seven days of the travel date, proof of a PCR or antigen test performed within three days of arrival, and proof of accommodation in the ” Resilient Corridors “together the north and south coasts. To return to Canada, a negative PCR test must be presented within 72 hours of arrival.

Canadian tour operators and airlines have given Jamaica a huge vote of confidence for the coming winter, reserving 258,000 seats for the destination, over 80% of the 305,000 seats on offer in the pre-2019 pandemic.

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