Jamaica realizes its worst nightmare. The dreaded COVID-19 is on the island, and it is agitating everyone. But how is the pandemic in Jamaica affecting tourism?
As expected, it has crippled Jamaica’s tourism sector. Even before the confirmation of the first case on March 10, travelers have been postponing or canceling their vacations. To make matters worse, Jamaica’s main travel partners, the USA and England, have an increased infection.
Jamaica’s first confirmed case of Covid-19 was on the eastern side of the island but impacted the north’s tourism sector. Out of concern for staff and visitors’ health, also the dwindling tourist arrival, some hotels and attractions stopped operation.
A cloud of uncertainty and fear now hangs over the island. Everybody, especially those in the tourism sector, is expecting the worse. If the situation in Italy or France is anything to go by, Jamaica will be in trouble.
Jamaica’s first case of coronavirus
The source of Jamaica’s first confirmed case of Covid-19 is a traveler from England who came to Jamaica to attend a funeral. She is also responsible for the first case of local transmission.
There have been more confirmed cases of the virus and one death. This individual traveled from New York. He was a 79-year-old man with underlying health issues. He died shortly after diagnosis.
At the writing of this post, they confirmed nineteen positive tests for COVID-19. Most of the confirmed cases got infected overseas. For updated information on the coronavirus, click here.
The Jamaican government’s response to the pandemic
The government has taken decisive actions to stop the pandemic in Jamaica. First, they implement screening at all ports of entry and protocol that requires everyone to declare if they have been to countries with an outbreak. Travel to China was prohibited, and later England and Italy. Travelers from countries affected by COVID-19 are screened and required to self-isolation for 14 days.
The government closed schools for 14 days, and no essential workers were asked to work from home. Sporting events were canceled or postponed, and gatherings of over twenty people were restricted. These restrictions affect bars, restaurants, clubs, entertainment events, and churches.
Jamaica will close its ports starting Saturday, March 21, at 11:59 pm. They will not allow travelers in for two weeks, but they can depart. Cargo can still enter and leave the country during this period.
The government got help from Cuba with over 100 healthcare specialists. They arrive in Jamaica on Saturday, March 21. They will help with the expected increase of coronavirus infections on the island. The Cubans will spend fourteen days in isolation before they start work.
Community reaction to the coronavirus in Jamaica
The country is anxious and not sure of what to expect. Coronavirus information is flooding local social media like water from a broken dam. Lots of helpful information circulating, also fake news. Covid-19 is the dominant topic in every conversation.
Many songs and poems have been written about the coronavirus, some informative, others humorous.
Several videos are circulating on social media about what to drink or eat to prevent and treat coronavirus.
Most people in the communities take this virus seriously, while for some, it is a big joke. The majority are practicing proper hygiene and social distancing. While others take no precautions
Some families are even afraid to come near each other. A cough or sneeze is a cause for panic and fear.
Passengers assaulted a man traveling on a bus because he was sneezing too often. This man had a terrible sinus problem, but commuters thought he had the coronavirus. This story came in the Jamaica Star newspaper.
A local entertainer apologized on national TV. Because he lied to customs agents about his travel history. He did not declare visits to a country affected by the coronavirus. Even worse, he was disrespectful to the costume agents and wished death on them. After a voice note circulated on social media about the incident and threat of legal action. He Scrambled to give an apology and agreed to self-quarantine for 14 days.
The coronavirus impact on hotels & attractions in Jamaica
Since the coronavirus reached the US shores, hoteliers have been nervous. There has been a steady reduction in bookings as it became clear the virus will stay for a while. Travel agents have been busy rescheduling bookings and making cancelations.
The tourism sector was slowly grinding to a halt. Jamaica’s second-highest source of foreign exchange is in trouble.
The rapid spreading of the virus in the USA only made matters worse. Also, the English government’s lack of concern for its citizens was not helping either. The writing was on the wall.
Since COVID-19 reached the island, major hotels such as Rui and Royalton closed their doors. They promise to open up when things clear up.
When will they reopen? Nobody knows. Everyone is clueless about how COVID-19 will affect Jamaica.
Jamaica’s port of entry closure for two weeks crippled all hotels on the island. All the big names in the local industry have closed their doors. Sandals, Half Moon, Couples, and Hedonism are just a few. They expect to lose billions of dollars. Also, many Jamaicans working in the tourism sector will be out of work.
The coronavirus has paralyzed the Jamaica tourism sector. Causing attractions and resorts to stop operation. The rapid increase in infection in the Western world will only worsen matters.
Thousands of Jamaicans will be out of work, and the country will lose billions in Foreign exchange over the next few months. The closing of all ports of entry for three weeks is going to damage the tourism sector further. COVID-19 is the worst thing that could happen to Jamaica’s tourism sector. Especially when growth is forecast.
The lockdown of the tourism sector and other challenges caused by COVID-19 will stress the local economy.
Nobody knows how soon things will get back to normal. Some experts are predicting infection in the USA to surpass Italy. So closely tied to the USA, Jamaica might suffer a similar fate.