Women in tourism: navigating COVID-19

by Mar 31, 2022People

Women are leaders in tourism and their contribution to the sector has set a solid foundation for years to come. It is important to celebrate and highlight their sustainability initiatives, to empower more women and girls to become equal players in Jamaica’s tourism sector. Though the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic were devastating, it presented the golden opportunity for women in tourism to do what they do best — innovate. Meet a few of these awesome women.

Angella Bennett – Jamaica Tourist Board, Regional Director, Canada

In 2020, in the middle of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the brainchild of Angella Bennett came to life when the Jamaica Tourist Board’s (JTB’s) Canada office launched a new social programme for Canadian travel agents, to keep everyone engaged with Jamaica. The weekly Zoom-hosted programme was fittingly named Irie Hour and featured fun, informative sessions that highlighted tourism developments in Jamaica while encouraging a positive, supportive and festive environment online. The programme, which still airs online, has so far hosted more than 10,000 travel agents.

Elizabeth Fox – Jamaica Tourist Board, Regional Director United Kingdom/Nordics

In 2020 the global travel industry was more or less shut down worldwide and airlines were cutting routes. The Jamaica Tourist Board’s United Kingdom office kept in constant contact with British Airways (BA) and worked closely with Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett and JamVac to use this opportunity to take advantage of available aircrafts. This led BA to begin their only new route system-wide – London Gatwick to Montego Bay. It began in December for the winter season (which was interrupted by COVID-19 lockdown rules) and resumed in 2021.

Odette Dyer – Regional Director, Jamaica

When COVID-19 hit no one knew what to expect, but before complete lockdown JTB’s Montego Bay office, under Dyer’s leadership, focused on the mental well-being of staff by keeping them engaged and motivated. To assist them in managing emotional and financial challenges faced during the pandemic, a series of virtual presentations were arranged.  These sessions helped staff through the more difficult aspects of COVID-19.

Mureen James – Executive Director, Devon House Development Limited

The main priority was to ensure that visitors, staff and tenants were all safe. This meant a heavy emphasis on training. A key group was the security team whose members were retrained to properly enforce mask mandates, physical distancing and the performance of temperature checks. This allowed for safe movement of visitors to Devon House.

Joy Roberts – Executive Director, JAMAICA VACATIONS LIMITED

Jamaican cruise ship workers along with the entertainers we employ at our ports were ‘Team Jamaica’ trained, which helped position more than 100 cruise ship workers to regain employment with the cruise lines. Between August 2021 and March 16, 2022, our Jamaican ports have received 104 calls, 141,265 passengers and 108,057 crew.

Source: JTB


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