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JHTA targets vaccine fence sitters under Ambassador Programme

Published:Wednesday | May 5, 2021 | 12:07 AM
Clifton Reader
Clifton Reader

The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) will be ramping up public education under its COVID-19 Ambassador Programme to encourage more workers in the sector to get vaccinated.

President of the JHTA, Clifton Reader, said many Jamaicans, including those in the hospitality sector, continue to “sit on the fence” regarding getting vaccinated.

He said that the Ambassador initiative will be taking aim at these “fence sitters” in communities situated in and around the tourism corridors, in order to highlight the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine and how it will better help them to protect their families and wider community.

“If we produce the facts to them in a way that they can understand it, then I believe that they would make the decision to go out and take the vaccine,” Reader said.

He told JIS News that many of the initiative’s 40 ambassadors in hotels and attractions in Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Negril, St Elizabeth, Portland and Kingston have already taken the vaccine, which has inspired their colleagues to follow suit.

“We surveyed approximately 3,030 hotel employees and it showed that 35 per cent of them say that they would take the vaccine [and] 42 per cent said maybe. However, now that they have seen the fact that we have taken it and we have not fallen down or fallen out, a lot more people are willing to take it,” he noted.

The COVID-19 Ambassador Programme was launched in October 2020 to communicate the four pillars of the COVID-19 safety protocols at the community level – social distancing, mask wearing, sanitising and handwashing.

This is being done through selected ambassadors, who are employed in the accommodation and attractions sectors.

Reader noted that, to date, tens of thousands of reusable and non-reusable masks have been donated to communities.

“Since the Negril launch [in December 2020], we have gotten another 10,000 masks from the Tourism Enhancement Fund, and about two weeks ago we finished with distribution of those and we basically now are in a mode of maintenance.

“We are still educating the communities, still working with our team members and making sure that the four pillars are ongoing, because it has been proven, over time, that those are the things that are protecting us,” Reader said.