Sat | Oct 23, 2021

Cruise tourism workers must be vaccinated – Bartlett

Published:Monday | August 16, 2021 | 12:48 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
From left: Daynel Williams is excited on arrival as she and her baby, Keon Francis, are greeted by Shane Munroe, CEO of MBJ Airports Limited; Edmund Bartlett, minister of tourism; Kerry Ann Quallo-Casserly, regional commercial director, Royalton Blue Diamo
From left: Daynel Williams is excited on arrival as she and her baby, Keon Francis, are greeted by Shane Munroe, CEO of MBJ Airports Limited; Edmund Bartlett, minister of tourism; Kerry Ann Quallo-Casserly, regional commercial director, Royalton Blue Diamond Resorts; and Clifton Reader, JHTA president. Williams was the one millionth passenger to travel to the island in one year and one month during the COVID-19 pandemic at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay on Sunday.

All tourism workers in Jamaica who interface with cruise-ship passengers must be vaccinated.

That’s the word from Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, who has said that cruise lines will not be calling in Jamaica if all persons who intend to interface with their clients here are not vaccinated.

Speaking at a ceremony in Montego Bay on Sunday to mark the one millionth stay-over visitor arrival to Jamaica through the Sangster International Airport, Bartlett said that the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) would be taking the lead role in a private sector-led initiative to get all tourism workers vaccinated.

“We want all workers to be vaccinated and are going to be very strong. We have established a special task force under the co-chairmanship of the permanent secretary, Jennifer Griffith, and the president of the JHTA, Clifton Reader, to drive this process ... ,” he said.

The tourism minister is urging all categories of tourism workers, including drivers, craft vendors, and attractions staff to get vaccinated as a condition of being certified as COVID-compliant by the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB).

“No cruise passenger will go to any attraction that is not COVID-certified by TPDCo and the JTB and have licences to operate as per the amusement licence requirements of the local government, industry,” the minister declared.

“We are not making things mandatory in the fullest sense of it, but we are saying that [it is] because we have prescribed rules, and we are dealing with people who are also requiring that we have vaccinated stakeholders as a condition of their coming to Jamaica,” Bartlett noted.

The tourism minister stressed that the move to vaccinate all tourism workers was being made in order to keep the country’s economy alive, replace the approximately 130,000 jobs that were lost overall during the pandemic, secure the livelihoods of workers in the sector, and ensure that visitors stay alive and become repeat visitors to the country.

“If we do that, we will be able to escalate the earnings in tourism. We’ll be able to escalate the jobs that are created,” he pointed out.

The tourism minister paid tribute to the stakeholders in the sector for their role in Sangster International Airport achieving the record of one million arrivals.

Bartlett has particular kudos for the small and medium enterprises in the sector, adding that epidemiological research has found that the hotel sector has one of the lowest infection rates in the country.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com