More headache for tourism - Travellers will require negative COVID tests to return home

January 13, 2021

There is growing fear in the tourism sector that the already struggling sector could suffer even greater fallout as a result of changes in the travel procedures for persons returning or travelling to Canada, the USA and the United Kingdom (UK) to submit a negative PCR test 96 hours before landing.

"These growing changes in testing requirements within the travel industry will undoubtedly cause a setback in the economic recovery of small, vulnerable destinations globally," Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said yesterday.

He said that the requirements for the negative tests will "place added pressure on the resources needed to treat our citizens, especially in countries that have made considerable efforts to successfully bolster their health and safety standards to insulate tourists and citizens alike, from the risk of COVID-19 infection".

Approximately 2,000 tourists who travelled to Canada were impacted this week.

Discussions with stakeholders

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton yesterday said in Parliament that the testing for travel could not be accommodated by the Government's national laboratory system. He said that the Government has initiated discussions with stakeholders to include the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica to create capacity within private labs to support the testing for persons who must travel.

Bartlett, meanwhile, has implored the governments of the USA, Canada and the UK to reconsider the requirements for COVID-19 testing for persons returning or travelling, and to "take into consideration the peculiar circumstances and risk level associated with travelling to individual countries".

"We believe that Jamaica has proven to be a safe destination with strict and effective COVID-19 protocols in place," Bartlett said.

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