(JAMAICA GLEANER) – In a grim assessment of the aviation industry’s tailspin, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said yesterday that traditional tourism as “we know it” is coming to a screeching halt.
The minister, who was responding to a United States Department of State advisory on Thursday warning American citizens to refrain from all international travel in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, said tough days are ahead for hoteliers, hospitality workers, and other tourism stakeholders.
“The impact of today’s advisory of a Level Four health advisory from the US will probably be the deciding factor in hotels, attractions, and other tourism entities remaining open or closed,” he noted.
“Each entity will have to make that call, but survival is the key right now.”
Most major hotels in Jamaica will be closing shutters in the coming weeks.
The situation is sending shockwaves throughout the tourism industry, with thousands of workers now facing an uncertain future.
One such hotel is the popular Iberostar Rose Hall Beach and Grand Rose Hall in St James, which will be closing from March 24-April 30.
“In light of the world health emergency caused by the spread of COVID-19 globally, we are following all current protocols and recommendations published by both the World Health Organization and local authorities,” the hotel said in a letter to its partners.
“As a result, we are taking the following measures, with the health and safety of our guests and employees as our maximum priority. As of today, guests arriving at our hotel Iberostar Rose Hall Beach will be redirected to the Iberostar Selection Rose Hall Suites, where they will be accommodated.”
Sea Garden Beach Resort in Montego Bay is also following suit.
“These are difficult times for travel globally as countries and businesses assess on a day-to-day basis the best course of action to take to protect their nationals, employees, and guests,” the hotel noted in a statement.
“It is against this background that Sea Garden Beach Resort has had to make the very difficult decision to stop receiving new reservations from today, March 18, 2020, until the COVID-19 threat has passed. Understandably, there is no known timeline as to when this threat will pass, and as such, we have no firm date or reopening at this point.
Other hotels set to close soon include Round Hill Hotel and Villas, Half Moon, Breathless, Secrets Wild Orchid, Zoetry, Sunset at the Palms, Hedonism II, Melia Braco, and Sandals Negril.
The closures follow earlier decisions by Royalton and RIU.
Meanwhile, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, Omar Robinson, said the announcement by the State Department would expedite the downturn in business and contribute to further “freefall”.
The Department of State has advised US citizens to avoid all international travel because of the global impact of COVID-19. It also noted that in countries where commercial departure options remained available, Americans who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the US unless they were prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.