WHEN newly minted Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) COVID-19 Ambassador Krystal Francis heard that she was selected to play a national role in the fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus, she was excited.
Excited, because she sees the programme as a platform that will help the tourism sector recover, which could also help her colleagues who have been laid off to start earning again.
“It’s an honour to be selected. I feel very strongly about it, because I would love for life to go back to normal, so I would love to be able to assist in the prevention of more COVID-19 cases as best as I can,” Francis, front office team leader, Altamont Court Hotel, Kingston, told JIS News at the R Hotel in Kingston, following the recent launch of the JHTA Kingston Chapter COVID-19 Ambassadors programme.
“The setback that the tourism industry has been facing, we have a lot of our staff members who are home still, and some persons had to be laid off,” the young woman, who started her career as a front desk agent in the industry, said.
Francis said, at the hotel where she has worked for the last six years, the biggest challenge they face, due to COVID-19, is the setback of the tourism industry, but they have implemented all the protocols outlined by the Government.
As an ambassador, Francis told JIS News that she will also promote the positive messages of the programme in the parish of St Thomas, where her home is located.
“I will definitely try to work within the communities — my community as well as the larger communities. I am from St Thomas and this is the Kingston chapter, which means that it will be mainly based in Kingston. So, as best as I can, I intend to go around and issue masks, and assist persons to get sanitisers to help prevent [the spread] of COVID-19,” she said.
Francis is one of seven employees in the tourism sector chosen for the JHTA Kingston Chapter COVID-19 Ambassadors programme. The others are sales executive, Jamaica Pegasus, Mikhalia Robinson; senior operations manager, Courtleigh Group, Cecile Hyatt Reynolds; house manager, Spanish Court, Andrew Thomas; bellman, Hotel R, Michael Ashman; marketing manager, Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel, Matthew Hann; and reservations manager, Medallion Hall, Glennah Bromfield.
Like Francis, Ashman told JIS News that he, too, is elated to have been chosen for this national task.
“It’s a great feeling. I’m happy that I was seen as a person that could be an ambassador for the hotel – a representative in a campaign in a fight against COVID-19 at this time,” he said.
For his part, he intends to continue pushing the instructions the Government has given in the form of preventative measures against the virus.
“We will encourage community members and anyone out there to wear a mask, social distance, sanitise and wash their hands, because that’s the only way we can fight this virus right now,” Ashman, who has been working at R Hotel for two years, said.
Meanwhile, Thomas is also happy he has been chosen by the JHTA to serve.
“As an ambassador, I intend to adhere to the various protocols — wearing your masks, washing and sanitising your hands, and the other rules,” he told JIS News.
He has been working with the Spanish Court Hotel for the last seven years.
In support of the preventative measures against COVID-19, the JHTA decided to create this programme, which the Government has endorsed and has provided some funding.
The Ministry of Tourism, through the Tourism Enhancement Fund, has provided 10,000 masks for the programme and committed to purchase other equipment needed for the project.
The Tourism Product Development Company Limited will also work with the organisers of the programme for standards control, quality control and public education.