With the furious coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic affecting almost all sectors in Jamaica and taking a huge toll, the touristic resilient corridors have been an exception to the rule, stakeholders say.

So much so, that some hoteliers openly state that one of the safest places is “the inside of a resort, which has some strict and established protocols that keep both our guests and staff safe and in line with the health and safety of the Ministry prescribed guidelines for health and wellness ”.

Andrea Savizon, visitor relations manager for the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), told JIS News that as part of an effort to restart tourism, the JTB has successfully launched its “Rediscover Jamaica” campaign that has attracted thousands over the past nine months Jamaican wares have benefited from attractive prices to visit local hotels and attractions across the island.

“Not only is this a win-win situation for our Jamaicans who want to enjoy their own country, but it also helps a lot to win many of our fellow Jamaicans back to work in the tourism sector. More importantly, however, these Jamaicans are now our biggest ambassadors for the fact that the COVID-19 abatement protocols are working, ”she says.

The Department of Tourism commissioned the creation of the tourism-resilient corridors that span much of the north coast, south coast and New Kingston.

In these corridors, tourism businesses must be certified by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) that they have implemented all COVID-19 prevention protocols with improved internal systems and government monitoring and enforcement to ensure compliance.

Sandals International Resorts is also a company that has been making success in its safety protocols, noting that its employees have received extensive training that has gone well beyond the mandatory guidelines set by the Department of Health and Wellness.

Shawn DaCosta, chief operating officer for sandals, told JIS News that his company remains proactive in the fight against the coronavirus and is committed to ensuring that team members continue to adhere to health and safety protocols.

Shawn DaCosta, Chief Operating Officer of Sandals International Resorts.

He adds that each team member has a responsibility to understand “these protocols” and to treat themselves and guests appropriately in accordance with the provisions of the Sandals Platinum Protocol of Cleanliness [Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases Protocol: COVID-19 document].

Melody Haughton, president of Montego Bay’s Harbor Street Craft Market, told JIS News that as part of Resilient Corridors, its members continue to follow best practices: “We don’t want to be left behind when things return to normal”.

“We continue to work with all of our tourism partners to ensure the safety of our guests and members. Of course things are pretty rough right now and a lot of sacrifices are being made. However, we do everything we can to fully comply with health and safety protocols, ”she says.

President of the Harbor Street Craft Market in Montego Bay, Melody Haughton.

Meanwhile, Clifton Reader, President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), told JIS News, “We are very proud that these stringent protocols have been followed since international arrivals returned about eight months ago.”

“The health of our population is undoubtedly our ultimate goal, and given that fact, our insistence that both staff and visitors adhere to all of our protocols has worked remarkably well,” says Reader.

He also points out that the resilient corridors and established protocols worked so well that employees have now been hired as part of a COVID-19 ambassador program where they “will now bring what they have learned in the hotels to the wider communities in order to spread contain the deadly pandemic ”.

“Many have suggested that tourism companies in Jamaica are probably some of the safest places to go because of our commitment to managing our logs,” he added.

Resilient Corridors Chairman John Byles says the question of whether to “replicate the principles of our Resilient Corridors in all the churches in our country” should be a no-brainer.

John Byles, chairman of the island’s Resilient Corridors.

“It is time for us to band together to protect our communities by protecting ourselves first,” he points out.

“If we really put life first, we can see that lives depend on controlling the spread of the virus while responsibly managing our nation’s economic recovery. Even without food and shelter, there is no health, ”adds Byles.