Monday,  May 23, 2022  3:28 am

Jamaica announces “Jamaica Cares” traveller protection program

Jamaica announces “Jamaica Cares” traveller protection program
From left: Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett; Dan Richards, CEO, Global Rescue
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Jamaica has unveiled a game-changing initiative to ensure the safety and protection of travellers and hospitality workers amid the coronavirus crisis.

Jamaica Cares, a traveller protection program, was announced by tourism officials – virtually – on Monday (Oct 26).

Speaking to media live from Jamaica via Zoom, Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue, called the program an “end-to-solution for travellers and tourists going to Jamaica to give them the peace of mind they need to start travelling again.”

Two components 

The initiative, which is expected to officially launch in November, is comprised of two major components: an “all-hazards program” and a COVID-19-specific program,  Richards explained.

“People need to feel confident that their safety and well-being is going to be taken care of during this current crisis and beyond,” said Richards.

Both parts consist of field rescue, emergency transport, advisory and oversight services from Global Rescue, and collaboration with medical partners at the Johns Hopkins University.

READ MORE: Jamaica eyeing insurance options for travellers as island reopens for tourism

Arrangements with Jamaica hospitals are being established for local care, medical security evacuation will be provided to those in need, and bedside advocacy services will be available to those in need, he said. 

The all-hazards program will include evacuation logistics and response for all tourists in need of support for emergencies big and small.

The COVID-19 services will include rapid testing, treatment in Jamaica, including up to $50,000 in medical insurance coverage, access to Global  Rescue workers in Jamaica, and up to $100,000 in international medical coverage to include medical costs that are incurred during travel home, repatriation and evacuations operations.

“People need to feel confident that their safety and well-being is going to be taken care of during this current crisis and beyond,” said Richards.

Jamaica Cares, a public-private partnership, will charge a mandatory fee of roughly $40 to all non-Jamaica passport holders.

This fee will support the operation of the Jamaica Operations Centre, which is based in Montego Bay, said Richards. 

This centre will also serve as a job creation mechanism in Jamaica as the country “comes together to deal with this terrible COVID-19 crisis,” he added. 

The JOC will ensure a “boots-on-the-ground” capability for dealing with crises in Jamaica as they occur, he explained, and assist in coordinating the country’s COVID-19 response.

“Generation C”

Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, noted how “COVID-19 has changed the world and tourism industry as we know it.”

“With crisis comes innovation, and opportunities to better manage, plan and recover,” said Bartlett, speaking about the new initiative.

From left: GTRCMC Executive Director, Professor Lloyd Waller; Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, spoke via Zoom on Monday.

Bartlett has long called pandemic-era travellers “Generation C” – a new demographic that requires much more in terms of safety and security in destinations.

“Destination assurance is becoming a critical pre-condition for travel today,” said Bartlett.

Jamaica has taken many steps to control and manage possible COVID-19 spread on the island.

In addition to encountering enhanced health and safety measures in the airport and at hotels, the island has implemented a “Resilient Corridor,” a geographical region running from Negril to Montego Bay and through to Ocho Rios and Port Antonio, whereby everyone entering Jamaica for tourism must stay within a designated area. 

This has given Jamaica greater control in managing the situation if and when there is a case of COVID-19 as officials can easily identify and isolate people as quickly as possible.

Jamaica’s COVID-19 prevention efforts seem to be paying off.

Mr. Bartlett said on Monday that Jamaica has welcomed 150,000 visitors since reopening to tourism on June 15, and since that time, “we have not had an incident of infection nor have we had any worker of the industry being infected.”

A "step in the right direction"

Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), called the Jamaica Cares program “a step in the right direction” and one that she hopes other countries will replicate.

“It’s crucial to resume international travel,” said Guevara at Monday's virtual press conference. 

Guevara went on to say that governments need to begin removing travel barriers, such as mandatory 14-day quarantine measures, and said that Jamaica’s announcement was “making history.”

“We believe that we need to co-exist with this virus. We cannot wait for a vaccine to be ready and to be totally deployed around the world…we can travel and do it in a protective way and save lives while restoring and bringing back livelihoods that have been impacted," she said.

The Jamaica Cares travel coverage will be available to all nationalities entering Jamaica with non-Jamaica passports.

If a traveller already has insurance, program personnel will accommodate people to ensure the “delivery is seamless,” said Richards.

As for the $40 fee travellers will have to pay, Richards said the details on where and when that payment will take place are still being finalized and will be announced soon.

The program was announced alongside the Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC), the WTTC and the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council. 

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