Don’t give tourists preferential treatment
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