Sun | Oct 1, 2023

Hoteliers back vaccine mandate

Published:Monday | October 11, 2021 | 12:09 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Clifton Reader, president of the JHTA.
Clifton Reader, president of the JHTA.


With increasing queries by prospective visitors on the COVID-19 immunisation status of tourism workers, a survey by the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) has revealed resounding support by industry stakeholders for mandatory vaccination.

Ninety-eight per cent of the stakeholders in the sector say vaccines should be compulsory for new recruits and current staff.

The news comes two weeks after a number of hoteliers confirmed to The Gleaner that winter bookings were trending upwards, but visitors were making inquiries about the vaccination status of tourism workers with whom they might interact while on vacation.

At the time, JHTA President Clifton Reader stated that such requests were not being made widely.

It is believed that cruise lines’ request that port, ground transportation, and attractions workers be fully vaccinated has emboldened the hoteliers.

Reader revealed that in the survey conducted among heads of large and small hotels this past weekend, the majority responded “definitely” when asked if they would support a state-ordered mandate for their staff to be vaccinated.

A small percentage were concerned about medical exemptions but agreed that once those cases were sensitively handled, they would be in agreement, too.

In a press statement Sunday, Reader said that it would be foolhardy to ignore the worldwide trend with the mandates being applied across major tourism markets.

“Already, our travel partners and guests are enquiring about the vaccination status of properties before making their reservations. We need to plan for what is clearly inevitable,” he said.

Reader noted also that JHTA members, in association with the Ministry of Health, have been hosting a series of vaccination blitzes at various hotels for the benefit of workers and allied hospitality and tourism workers.

Approximately 10.6 per cent - 302,359 people - of the Jamaican population has been fully vaccinated.

As at Saturday, there were more than 29,200 active cases of COVID-19 locally. Two thousand people have died from the disease.