Jamaica has boosted its Covid testing capacity to ensure it is ready to meet demand for the "re-entry" tests many travellers from its major source markets will require before they leave to ensure they can fly home.
Tourism minister Edmund Bartlett said thanks to the efforts of a testing taskforce, Jamaica was now "very ready".
"We have developed the infrastructure to secure the quantities of testing agents and/or to enable the viral testing methods that are approved by the relevant authorities," said Bartlett.
"So, all visitors who come to Jamaica will be able to access approved testing arrangements to enable them to fulfil the requirements of their respective countries for re-entry."
Two dedicated testing centres have been set up near the country’s Kingston and Montego Bay international airports.
There are also testing facilities at the country’s major hotels, and contingency transport arrangements have been put in place to ensure visitors to get to their nearest testing centre if there are no on-site testing facilities.
Bartlett said the move was necessitated by a recent order from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requiring all airline passengers travelling, or returning, to the US to provide evidence of a negative pre-departure Covid test result, akin to rules recently introduced in the UK.
Bartlett branded the new requirements "burdensome", stressing the country’s tourism sector was already hampered by existing Covid protocols.
"The new ones only add to that burden," said Bartlett. "It is moving costs up and reducing volumes in, and will have implications in terms of the viability of some of the entities.
"However, what it is not affecting is the quality and high experience level that Jamaica offers. We are still the finest destination to visit."
Jamaica is also working on a policy to cater for any visitors who test positive for Covid prior to their proposed departure.
“For visitors who test positive, we have a positive care programme that is being structured," said Bartlett.
"The hotels will be the first responders by allowing the visitors to stay on property in a designated area throughout the period, especially if they are asymptomatic, to fulfil the requirements to enable them to go back home."
The country’s testing taskforce has been led by Bartlett, with input from the island’s hotel and tourist association, the wider Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, as well as government officials and advisors, and representatives from the country’s tourism sector.