Bartlett says tourism workers vaccination is a priority

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says that the health and safety of frontline tourism workers, other Jamaicans and visitors remain a top priority for his ministry, as the tourism industry strives for normality.

“Our robust health and security protocols, our Tourism COVID-19 Resilient Corridors, which have seen a very low infection rate of 0.6 per cent, and our Jamaica Cares programme, have earned Jamaica the admiration of our local and international partners,” he told the House of Representatives in an update on the sector.

“More recently, we have doubled down on our efforts to create a safer tourism product, by establishing a Tourism Vaccination Task Force to facilitate the vaccination of tourism workers island wide,” he said, adding that the task force is “ably” co-chaired by the Tourism Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Jennifer Griffith, and President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Clifton Reader.

“Our target is to ensure that all 170,000 tourism workers are vaccinated and protected from the possible harm that can come from contracting the deadly COVID-19 virus and its variants. This will aid in our recovery efforts for the sector and, by extension, the country, and the vaccination of tourism workers is key to tourism’s full recovery,” he informed the House.

He said that the task force has already organised a series of vaccination blitzes at strategic sites across the island, which are being hosted in collaboration with the Private Sector Vaccine Initiative in tandem with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica, and various tourism stakeholders, both within the public and private sectors.

“To date, blitzs have taken place across the island, including the Jamaica Pegasus (hotel) in Kingston, with 1,200 persons, Moon Palace in Ocho Rios where 320 workers received the jab and, to date, some 60 of its staff have been vaccinated and Sandals Negril, with 56, among others,” he stated.

He said that, so far, approximately 50 per cent of tourism workers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccines.

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