KINGSTON, JAMAICA — Jamaica has announced a groundbreaking – and mandatory – new program for all foreign travellers, effective next month.
Jamaica Cares, a joint collaboration between the Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC), the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council, and Global Rescue, is being hailed as a first-of-its kind traveller protection and emergency services program designed to protect both visitors and the people of Jamaica.
For approximately US$40, the end-to-end program provides all nationalities who are entering Jamaica with non-Jamaica passports with access to compulsory traveller protection and emergency medical services. It is comprised of two major components:
- All Hazards program: Case management, transport logistics, field rescue, evacuation, and repatriation for medical emergencies, including COVID-19 and other crises up to and including natural disasters
- COVID-19-specific program: International health coverage up to US$100,000 for visitors traveling to and from Jamaica, and on-island health coverage up to US$50,000
In a virtual press conference earlier this morning, Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue, confirmed that the fee will go towards supporting its new Jamaica Operations Centre (JOC) based in Montego Bay, and additional expansion to other locations as necessary.
“The JOC will ensure a rapid boots-on-the-ground response capability for dealing with crises when they occur, including coordinating our COVID-19 response in Jamaica and the region,” said Richards. “We envision head count to grow as we grow out the program to Jamaica and, ultimately, throughout the region and potentially the world.
“We will not rest until we have accomplished our mission, and that is the restoration of Jamaican travel and tourism to pre-COVID-19 levels and ongoing support thereafter.”
Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, stressed the need for a proactive approach to global tourism recovery, saying that “destination assurance” is becoming a critical pre-condition for travel today.
“Trust has to be earned, we can only do that with action – not just words – through innovation, partnership and empathy,” said Bartlett. “As thought leaders, Jamaica has proactively taken a vital role in recovering and building the spirit of travel by restoring the trust and confidence of travellers in our destination. Jamaica Cares represents another prong in our COVID resilience and has been designed very specifically and deliberately. The program’s protocols will ensure our ability to welcome travellers to Jamaica safely.”
Bartlett expects the program to be implemented by U.S. thanksgiving, and confirms that Jamaica has already begun speaking with other countries that wish to follow suit. More information regarding how travellers can access the program and when payment will be required will come in the next few weeks, though Bartlett said that “the market will be given enough time to be able to respond to whatever the requirements are to comply.”
For travellers who already have travel insurance in place, Richards said that Jamaica Cares is an additive program.
“The extent that the individual already has a mechanism in place, either a service provider or a travel insurance package that they’ve already purchased, our personnel will work with whatever insurance they have to deconflict that program with ours and to make sure the delivery of services is seamless,” said Richards. “At the end of the day, what we are aiming for is that seamless delivery of service with respect to these types of issues.”
Also joining the press conference was Gloria Guevara, president & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), and Dr. Taleb Rifai, Co-Chair of the GTRCMC and the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council, and former Secretary-General of the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization (WTO).
Guevara stressed the need for the global community to eliminate quarantines so that “people can freely move around”, and said that today’s announcement is an important step towards resuming international travel.
“From WTTC, we believe that we have to learn how to co-exist with this virus, and we cannot wait for a vaccine to be ready and be deployed around the world,” she said. “We see Jamaica Cares as a very important initiative that will be a good example around the world and will hopefully be replicated by other countries.”
Rifai also hailed the program, calling it a great initiative between the public and private sectors.
“Now it’s in the hands of governments,” he said. “This concept must become international and we must have most governments adhere to it. It’s the only way we can travel safely and have peace of mind.”