Don’t give tourists pref­er­en­tial treat­ment

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION -

THE EDI­TOR, Madam:

IN AN ar­ti­cle in The Gleaner on June 6, Tourism Min­is­ter Ed­mund Bartlett said that the es­ti­mated over­all loss to the econ­omy since the tourism lock­down is $107.6 bil­lion so “June 15 is not just about tourism, it is a mat­ter of eco­nomic life or death”.

If this is so, then great care would have to be taken to en­sure that the re­open­ing of tourism would not over­look any is­sue that could do any fur­ther dam­age.

He made the case that 350,000 work­ers have to get back to work, and many tourism en­ter­prises are at se­vere eco­nomic risk, and he is aware of the pub­lic out­cry that an unchecked speedy open­ing could have se­vere prob­lems.

Fur­ther, the Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion of Ja­maica (MAJ) has said that it must pro­ceed on “sound med­i­cal prin­ci­ples” and is ask­ing for manda­tory COVID-19 test­ing of all tourists. They ar­gue that this could de­rail the work al­ready done by the coun­try in pro­tect­ing us from the virus.

Ja­maicans United for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment and nu­mer­ous other groups agree with the MAJ, not­ing that any spike or in­ter­rup­tion in our pro­gramme has mainly been caused by per­sons en­ter­ing the is­land who were not tested and who have posed prob­lems for ev­ery­one.

If this is re­peated in tourism, then it cer­tainly would not be worth the risk.

The ho­tel staff, associated work­ers, the front-line work­ers at ports of en­try, and our med­i­cal pro­fes­sional at all lev­els have to be tested, too. All per­sons in the tourism in­dus­try must be treated as equal, es­pe­cially at this time. Many Ja­maicans are in agree­ment that af­ford­ing pref­er­en­tial treat­ment to for­eign tourists is wrong and is no guar­an­tee that such a treat­ment would en­sure that tourism would re­bound as we would like.

RICHARD ‘DICKIE’ CRAW­FORD Co–founder Ja­maicans United for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment

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