KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, says vaccinating the island’s front-line tourism workers will serve as a major marketing position for the country and provide “a shot in the arm” the quick recovery of the industry.
“Vaccination is one of the secure ways of holding out the chance of fighting this pandemic, and while it is true that the world doesn’t say it is the only answer, it is certainly a big part of what helps us to manage this process,” he said.
“We want all of our tourism workers to be vaccinated, and I want it for many reasons. First of all for their own health and security and secondly, for the assurance of the market that Jamaica is a safe, secure, and seamless destination and to be able to say to the market that the Jamaican workers are all vaccinated,” he added.
Bartlett, who visited the vaccination site at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on the first day of the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ island-wide vaccination blitz, said that following the blitz, “Jamaica might be the most vaccinated tourism-worker group in the entire Caribbean and that’s a major statement to be made.”
The mass exercise aims to inoculate 50,000 Jamaicans by Tuesday, and Bartlett said that 30 000 tourism workers are targeted for vaccination over the period.
He said that this status would put the country “ahead of the game” as the world categorizes countries based on vaccination.
“The (United Kingdom) UK has been talking about red, green light and amber light agreement to determine the level of acceptance for destinations their people can travel to and the United States (US) is struggling with the issue of a vaccination passport.
“The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), along with the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) are struggling to find a mechanism or a bio-sanitary tool to which everyone can subscribe to enable travel to be seamless,” he said.
Bartlett said that the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) and other tourism partners are committed to ensuring that the vaccination process is completed as quickly as possible.
Meanwhile, the President of the JHTA, Clifton Reader, said that the association is in full support of the Government’s vaccination blitz.
He said that the JHTA has been active in the mobilization effort, recognizing that a fully vaccinated tourism workforce will stimulate confidence in destination Jamaica among the global tourism stakeholders.
“We have been told of this blitz, and we informed everybody within our sector from the craft vendors to transportation and, of course, attractions. I want to appeal to the attractions because … a great way for them to open up is to get vaccinated to ensure that they are safe, their families are safe, their communities are safe, and by extension, the tourists will be safe as well,” Reader said.
Among those targeted for inoculation over the weekend included people ages 60 years and over, staff members from the Department of Correctional Services, Jamaica Fire Brigade, Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency, Jamaica Customs, tourism workers, teachers, and other employees of educational institutions.
Persons 40 years and older who suffer from one or more comorbid conditions; persons 50 years and older; and members of the public employed in the transport sector have also been added to the categories of persons who can be vaccinated.
Members of the public, who fall in any of these cohorts, can register using the online portal on the Ministry’s website or register on the spot at one of the blitz sites across the island.