Sat | May 8, 2021

Vaccination blitz exceeds target at Montego Convention Centre

Published:Saturday | April 10, 2021 | 6:32 PMJanet Silvera - Senior Gleaner Writer
Shamar Birthfield administers a dose of COVID-19 vaccine to Stayce Ingram, groups and meetings manager, Royalton Resorts during today's vaccination blitz at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James (Ashley Anguin photo).

More than 1,000 tourism workers turned out for their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during the Ministry of Health and Wellness' ‘Weekend Blitz’ at the Montego Bay Convention Centre today, surpassing the set 1,000-target.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said if the trajectory continues, Jamaica will be able to sustain a major marketing position. In fact, he went as far as to say, after this weekend, Jamaica could be the Caribbean country with the largest group of tourism workers who are vaccinated.

“To say to the world that Jamaican tourism workers are all vaccinated will be a major marketing position, particularly, at a time when world tourism is moving towards harmonisation of the standardisation of policies and practises and one of the areas of common understanding is that to vaccinate means to enhance your security,” Bartlett stated.

His comments come even as several workers remain hesitant, taking on a wait and see attitude towards vaccination.

The blitz which started on Friday, will run until tomorrow (Sunday), inoculating workers and operators in the hotel sector, attractions, craft vending, in-bond merchants, ground transportation and airport personnel from the resort towns of Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Negril.

Making a special appeal to the industry, the tourism minister, in collaboration with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) president, Clifton Reader, implored those who have to interface with tourists to get their jab.

Bartlett pointed out that the world has also been categorising countries on the basis of vaccination. He said the United Kingdom has been talking about a red and amber light agreement to determine the level of acceptance for destinations their Britons can travel to; while the US is contemplating whether to implement a vaccination passport. The United Nation World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), in addition to the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) are struggling to find a mechanism, which they have tagged a bio-sanitary tool, which persons would be able to subscribe in order to travel.

With cruise tourism on the cusp of returning, and their clients renowned for being street walkers, the tourism minister argued that it was critical to ensure all those who are involved in the sector are vaccinated.

“So that when they come they will know they have a small, if any, chance at all to contract the virus, because Jamaicans are secure,” he told journalists at a press conference on the vaccination floor this afternoon.

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