Distress Without Cruise Ships, Says Jamaica’s Tourism Minister

Cruising has been through a lot in the past six months, but so too have the many nations who rely on tourism to keep their economies moving. The Caribbean island of Jamaica took a conservative approach to reopening after first opening their doors to tourists on June 15th. Using common sense precautions and using extra scrutiny with travelers from hot zones have helped the island keep COVID-19 infection rates down and tourism pointing up. 

The Honourable Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism for Jamaica, currently chairs the Board of Affiliate Members of the United Nations World Tourism Organization and is also viewed by many as one of the world’s leading Tourism Ministers – representing Jamaica regionally and internationally.

Mr. Bartlett joined Porthole Cruise Founder and Editor-in-Chief Bill Panoff to discuss what the island has done since June and how they’re preparing for the return of cruise ships. 

We are very distressed that cruis[ing] is not back. Cruise plays a very important part in the economy of our communities 

When asked what Jamaica is doing to prevent COVID-19 transmission and how it will affect cruise passengers, Mr. Bartlett explained that some precautions simply aren’t possible, but there are plenty that are. 

The toll the cruise industry stoppage has had on the island can’t be ignored. Mr. Bartlett explained that some areas of the island are entirely based around tourism. He mentioned the community of Falmouth in particular as it’s the largest port in the region and a major source of income for many Jamaicans. 

When asked why Jamaica should be on everyone’s list for first vacation back, the Prime Minister of Tourism didn’t hold back his opinions. 

“Jamaica is absolutely God’s gift to the world…The fact is that Jamaica’s endowments are known. The physical features are absolutely delightful, but it’s the people. It’s all about the Jamaican people. It’s about our food. It’s about our music. It’s about our attitude. It’s about the way we interact and make you feel special.” 

Jamaica currently asks that tourists stay on the grounds of their hotel or resort for the duration of their stay. The government did have plans to allow tourists to sightsee to approved locations with approved transportation, but an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the past week or two forced the island to play it safe for the time being. 

Watch the full interview with Mr. Bartlett below!