JHTA extends sympathy re first COVID-19 death, commends gov’t assistance package for workers

The Riu Hotel was forced to shutter some properties in Jamaica due to a decline in business brought on by the coronavirus.

The Jamaican Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) has extended sympathies to the family and loved ones of Jamaica’s first casualty of COVID-19.

The elderly man died on Wednesday.

At the same, time the JHTA said Jamaica’s tourism sector has already begun to feel the weight of this global downturn resulting from the spread of the coronavirus.

“Recognizing that tourism has both direct and indirect linkages to almost all business in Jamaica, we know that the immense pressure that we are feeling is or will soon be felt right across the Jamaican economy,” the said.

The group has already had preliminary meetings with both Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke and Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett during which the government members were provided with a clear-eyed view of the current to medium-term outlook for the sector.

“A number of proposals were put on the table and we continue to discuss the details of same, to ensure that both the Government and our Industry arrive at the best options to limit as much as is possible, the fallout that we all know is possible without us working as partners, on behalf of the entire country,” the body outlined.

Meanwhile, the JHTA has congratulated the Government for their early announcement of an assistance package geared towards the country’s workers,  who could face a serious loss of personal income. 

The JHTA said: “We remain in thoughtful discussions with the Government on a number of other fiscal measures, which we believe, if implemented will be necessary to, at a minimum, keep vulnerable businesses operational and even more importantly, will ensure that they are in a positon to take advantage of the inevitable rebound of the global travel market.”