Weeks after Jamaica’s tourism minister announced its establishment, the travel insurance component of the “Jamaica Cares” COVID-19 program remains “in development,” said Donovan White, Jamaica Tourist Board director.

“Our most recent initiative is the announcement of Jamaica Cares. To be clear, Jamaica Cares is not an ensuing health logistics program. That program has not yet been launched,” White said during a Thursday media briefing.

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“When the insurance and logistics program starts up, we anticipate it will be mandatory,” added White. “We hope to have more information about this shortly.”

Instead, White said the full Jamaica Cares program “encompasses our entire destination-wide response to the pandemic and underlines our commitment to resilience in the face of challenges. [It] galvanizes our COVID-19 response,” said White.

Donovan White, Jamaica Tourism Director
Jamaica Cares is also about “keeping our local communities working and healthy.” – Donovan White (photo courtesy of the Jamaica Tourist Board)

Jamaica Cares is also about “keeping our local communities working and healthy,” said White, and providing international travelers with “a seamless and coordinated, COVID-secure travel experience.” Jamaica has been among the handful of Caribbean countries to host significant visitors numbers since the pandemic’s outbreak.

In fact, during the first two weeks after its June 15 reopening, “[Jamaica] welcomed 7,000 visitors, which we saw as an encouraging sign. In the summer months there was a spike in arrivals for July and August and over the two months Jamaica welcomed some 18,000 visitors,” said White.

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While those numbers are far short of historic norms (Jamaica hosted 4.23 million land-based and cruise ship visitors in 2019), White said arrivals continued to increase from October through December when the country hosted “our highest visitor arrivals since 2020 with over 90,000 visitors,” said White.

“January remains encouraging with 43,800 visitors and just over 50,000 visitors” in February, he said. “While our arrival figures are positive, we have to maintain a balance between proactive [tourism] sales and marketing while also mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.”

To that end the country has continued to monitor and update its COVID-19 protocols, procedures and resources, White said.

“We have significantly expanded [COVID-19] testing capacity to bring the island into readiness with testing requirements for international travelers,” said White. Jamaica’s Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Health and Wellness have established mobile testing facilities within Jamaica’s Resilient Corridors, White said, and “more than 40 hotels and resorts are providing COVID-19 testing on-property for their guests.”

Although Jamaica recently reported a local COVID-19 infection spike, the country this week launched a mass vaccination program. Additionally, the infection rate increase has had minimal impact on travelers within the Resilient Corridors, said White.

“We certainly have had a few cases that have developed among [tourists] who have been tested while here and returned positive results,” he said. “All of our hoteliers have made provisions for quarantining rooms on their properties. [Moreover] the Resilient Corridors have allowed us to ensure we can monitor and maintain the movements of visitors to the country within the corridor, where they go and when they go. And if there are cases, we can track and trace.”

White added, “People who come to Jamaica [now] have the assurance that there is an aggressive vaccination program going on in Jamaica, which hopefully adds to their personal security, knowing they’re going to a destination that has taken COVID-19 seriously and is at the forefront of driving policy that protects lives and livelihoods.”