JAMAICANS are being urged to support the local tourism industry as it seeks to boost the country’s flagging economic fortunes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This call comes from Sandals Montego Bay Diamond Team Member of the Year 2019 Anastasia Salmon, one of the workers in the industry whose daily interactions with overseas visitors puts her front and centre of the COVID-19 pandemic and in a unique position to share her views.
“Tourism is the main foreign exchange earner in Jamaica and while it has been hard hit by COVID-19, we, in the industry, are working hard, every single day, to create the best experience for our guests in the safest manner possible, by following our Sandals Platinum Protocols so that they can feel confident to holiday in Jamaica and go back and tell their friends that Jamaica is a safe destination to visit,” noted a passionate Salmon.
She said that returning to work at Sandals Montego Bay, which was among the first resorts to open during the pandemic, was not an easy decision, but due to the training for all team members before resuming duties and the extensive platinum protocols, she felt safe to play her part in resurrecting the industry that was ravaged by the fallout from COVID-19.
“In a sense, I feel like a hero coming to work daily and not feel like I am taking any unnecessary risks while maintaining the protocols of Sandals Resort and the Government,” Salmon noted. “I feel safe and secure in the sense that we have not had any issues of team members being exposed to the virus.
“Sandals protocols have been consistent with the national protocols and has helped us create a new normal, so to speak,” she added. “We just want Jamaicans not to be wary of guests in the tourism corridor, as it has been a success and we are looking forward to a great winter tourist season. The money from the inflows in foreign exchange will help us all to have a merrier Christmas.”
She is, however, urging all Jamaicans to take a page out of the tourism industry’s playbook and practise proper physical distancing, wear their masks, wash hands, and sanitise regularly to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Salmon is one of the high achievers in the Sandals chain, having started out in 2014 as an entertainment coordinator before a meteoric rise through the ranks to the position of concierge agent. During that period, her drive, passion for her job, and dedication to duty have earned her a multitude of awards.
“For a Kingston girl coming to Montego Bay, it was a tough choice but one I have not regretted, as Sandals has afforded me the opportunity, through its Corporate University, to upgrade my skills and grow as a person. She is also a proud Sandals Foundation ambassador, certified wedding coordinator, Sandals Earth Guardian ambassador, certified fire warden, and recently copped the title of Miss Flagship Festival Queen.
“I am very proud of the work my company has done in keeping us safe, providing salaries and care packages for us, even when we were closed, and now pushing to get all the properties open during this difficult time,” the Diamond Team Member noted. “For this I have to take my hat off to Gordon Stewart and Adam Stewart.”