Tourism sec­tor braces for Matthew

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Janet Sil­vera Se­nior Gleaner Writer janet.sil­vera@glean­erjm.com

AS THE coun­try braces for Hur­ri­cane Matthew, the Min­istry of Tourism has ac­ti­vated Tourism Emer­gency Op­er­a­tions Cen­tres (TEOC) at The Ja­maica Pe­ga­sus ho­tel in Kingston and the Al­ta­mont West in Mon­tego Bay, St James.

In ad­di­tion to be­ing the of­fi­cial sources of in­for­ma­tion for the tourism sec­tor, the cen­tres will dis­sem­i­nate warn­ings and bul­letins re­ceived from the Na­tional Emer­gency Op­er­a­tions Cen­tre; an­a­lyse and eval­u­ate all data per­tain­ing to emer­gency op­er­a­tions within the tourism sec­tor, as well as up­date lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional me­dia.

Al­ready the in­ter­na­tional news agency ABC Florida is on the is­land, with NBC and BBC teams ex­pected to ar­rive to­day to pro­vide cov­er­age of the sys­tem, which is ex­pected to be­gin im­pact­ing the is­land late to­day into to­mor­row.

Min­is­ter of Tourism Ed­mund Bartlett, who is over­seas on busi­ness, has given as­sur­ance that his min­istry and its agen­cies have taken all nec­es­sary pre­cau­tions and are well pre­pared for the even­tu­al­ity of a hur­ri­cane.

“The TEOCs will pro­vide im­por­tant and timely in­for­ma­tion to stake­hold­ers in the sec­tor. I en­cour­age all our tourism part­ners and Ja­maicans in gen­eral to heed the hur­ri­cane warn­ings is­sued by the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties and take all the nec­es­sary pre­cau­tions to keep safe dur­ing the pos­si­ble pas­sage of Hur­ri­cane Matthew,” said Bartlett.

EMER­GENCY SER­VICES

In the mean­time, a num­ber of the is­land’s hote­liers have ac­ti­vated their emer­gency ser­vices by se­cur­ing their guests and fur­ni­ture.

The Royal DeCameron Club Caribbean in Run­away Bay has moved its guests from the beach­front to the rear of the prop­erty. The ho­tel has also made ar­range­ments with Cardiff Ho­tel (for­merly the HEART Academy) to ac­com­mo­date some of its guests.

The north tower at Moon Palace Ja­maica Grande has been moved to the south tower and the lower floors of the 720-room re­sort.

Checks made with Bahia Principe in St Ann re­vealed that a num­ber of guests from over­seas were still ex­pected at check in yes­ter­day and there were no re­lo­ca­tions.

“We have a hur­ri­cane pol­icy that speaks to can­cel­la­tions, so our guests are al­ready aware. We also have a dis­tress rate that is ap­plied in the event that they can’t leave as planned,” the re­sort’s so­cial re­la­tions man­ager, Far­rah Blake, told The Sun­day Gleaner.

Ac­cord­ing to Ja­maica Ho­tel and Tourist As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent, Omar Robin­son, all the large ho­tels have man­u­als which speak to a four-phased plan dur­ing a hur­ri­cane.

“Be­fore the start of a hur­ri­cane sea­son we check in­ven­tory of the fol­low­ing items which should be es­tab­lished and stored in one lo­ca­tion: lamps, can­dles, heavy-duty plas­tic bags, rain­coats, wa­ter boots, bat­tery-pow­ered ra­dios, bat­ter­ies, mask­ing and duct tape, sand­bags, flash­lights, tar­pau­lin, matches and ply­board,” said Robin­son.

Up to late yes­ter­day the Sang­ster In­ter­na­tional Air­port, where most of the is­land’s tourists ar­rive, re­mained opened, com­mer­cial direc­tor Si­tara By­field con­firmed.

“At this time, there are no plans to close the air­port as we con­tinue to watch the tra­jec­tory of Hur­ri­cane Matthew. We also have not seen any ad­di­tional flights at this time or in­flux of per­sons leav­ing the is­land,” said By­field.

JER­MAINE BARN­ABY/FREE­LANCE PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Vis­i­tors to the is­land en­joy­ing the sun­shine on the streets of Mon­tego Bay as the tourism sec­tor braces for Matthew.

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