Jamaica says it has developed the first end-to-end insurance programme for tourists travelling to the island that will be officially launched in two weeks.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said the Jamaica Cares Insurance Programme comprises two components – an all-hazard and a coronavirus (COVID-19) programme – and is aimed at providing travel protection and emergency services to tourists coming into the island, as well as to ensure the safety and protection of workers in the tourism sector.
Bartlett, who is also the co-chair of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC), told a virtual press conference that the GTRCMC has signed an agreement with Global Rescue for the implementation of the programme.
“The Jamaica Cares Programme represents another prong in our COVID resilience and has been designed very specifically and very deliberately. The programme protocol will ensure our ability to welcome travellers to Jamaica safely, knowing that in the worst-case scenario, they will be treated to the gold standards of care and service by building an alliance that looks at the travel experience to Jamaica and back home again,” he said.
He said Jamaica is the first in the world to offer this end-to-end health logistics coverage, adding “if an unexpected medical emergency occurs, this programme has identified precisely the components that ensure the best possible outcome for the traveller”.
Bartlett, noting the negative impact that the pandemic has had on the tourism sector, said that despite the negative forecast that is projected for the sector, Jamaica has learned that with crisis comes innovation and opportunities to better manage and recover.
“As thought-leaders, Jamaica is practically taking a vital role in recovering and rebuilding the spirit of travel by restoring the trust and confidence of travellers to our destination,” he said.
“Today is tangible evidence of Jamaica and the Global Tourism Resilience Crisis Management Centre resolve to ensure resilience in this new COVID-pandemic world. In times of crisis we see innovation, new procedures like the COVID-19 protocols and the resilient corridor Jamaica has led the world in establishing,” Bartlett said.
He said that the coronavirus resilient corridor is an important and effective component that gives the country the ability to manage and track the movement of tourists, while enabling them to enjoy the tourism activities.
Additionally, he said that Jamaica, since reopening its border to tourists on June 15, has welcomed 150,000 visitors and has not had any case of the virus among visitors or workers.
Chief Executive Officer of Global Rescue, Dan Richards, commended both Bartlett and the GTRCMC president Professor Dr. Lloyd Waller, for having the innovative vision to create the programme.
“What we’ve done is to build an end-to-end solution for tourists going to Jamaica to get peace of mind. People need to feel confident that their safety and well-being is being taken care of during this current crisis and beyond, and that is exactly what the Jamaica Cares Programme is all about,” he added.
Richards explained that both components of the programme will consist of field rescue, emergency transport advisory, and oversight services from the personnel at Global Rescue and its partners at the Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine Division of Special Operations.
He said that arrangements with Jamaican hospitals are being established for provision of local care.
Additionally, Richards said the all-hazards programme will include evacuation, logistics and response for all tourists in need of medical and crisis support for big and small emergencies, including mass crisis support for large events like natural disasters, terrorism and other significant systemic type crises.
The COVID-19 services will include rapid testing and triage for symptomatic travellers’ treatment and associated care as needed in Jamaica, that includes up to J$50,000 medical insurance coverage, access to Global Rescue personnel in Jamaica to ensure immediate response, and up to J$100,000 of international medical coverage to include medical costs that are incurred during travel home, repatriation and evacuation operations.
He said the programme will charge non-Jamaican passport holders a mandatory fee of US$40 to support the work at the Jamaica Operations Centre (JOC). The Centre, which will be expanded in other areas if necessary, will have the capacity to employ up to 80 medical crisis response personnel.
President and chief executive officer of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Gloria Guevara Manzo, also welcomed the new initiative.
“This is a step in the right direction that we’re truly hoping that other countries will follow, so that we can continue rebuilding trust from the travellers and moving in accelerated recovery.
“We believe at WTTC that collaboration is key to accelerate the recovery and is critical to restore consumer confidence, so this initiative is a perfect example of the type of collaboration that we need to restore the confidence of the travellers and help us to bring back millions of jobs,” Manzo said.