Tourism interests encouraged by nearly 50% take up of vaccines by workers so farTuesday, September 21, 2021
With 47 per cent of workers being vaccinated against COVID-19, tourism interests are expressing optimism that this augurs well for the sector in its recovery from the pandemic.
Chairman of the Sandals Group, Adam Stewart, revealed the figure in a tweet Tuesday morning. He added that the industry was “on pace to exceed 50 per cent by next week as projected”.
When contacted, President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) Clifton Reader said the industry was "very encouraged" by the numbers.
“The first thing we're doing is to make sure that we educate; we've been on the floor with our HR people, department heads, supervisors and most importantly, we have influencers in the hotels, informal leaders and we have been working through them just to make sure that we get to everyone,” Reader told OBSERVER ONLINE.
He said some hotels have in fact vaccinated up to 60 or 70 per cent of their staff.
“They've worked really hard to get there,” he said.
The JHTA boss disclosed that some hotels have offered incentives, including cash “and other means” for their staff to get inoculated. He also lauded the involvement of the private sector.
“One of the things that I found that worked very well is the PSVI (Private Sector Vaccine Initiative) along with the JHTA where we were able to take the vaccines to the team members,” Reader shared.
The managing director of Moon Palace Jamaica said that at one stage he was expecting about 150 of his employees to take the vaccine. However, when the day came around the numbers who turned up at the centre where the vaccines were to be administered swelled.
“By the time they (workers) looked and they saw other people going and because it was right here (at the hotel) …other people went and got vaccinated,” said Reader.
He highlighted that the Sandals properties in particular have been doing well at getting staff members vaccinated. He pointed to Sandals Ocho Rios, Sandals Negril, Sandals Montego Bay as well as Riu Hotel among those where the response has been good.
“All of those properties have done on site vaccinations,” Reader noted.
When asked, the JHTA head said that tourism workers have come to the realisation that in order for them to retain their jobs “a lot of them realise that if the sector does well, they will do well and there will be more jobs so I'm sure that has been a significant factor because they've been out of work for so long and now that they're back, one of the things that can stabilise the economy is a high vaccination rate”.
Reader said the JHTA has been at the forefront in encouraging as many workers to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. He said he was very pleased that the number has risen to 47 per cent which he said is verified by the Ministry of Health and Wellness which runs regular surveys among the various properties.
Meanwhile, Reader disclosed that about 60 to 70 per cent of hotel and attractions' workers are back on the job. He described the figure as being “very encouraging”. He is hopeful that the sector will regain some of the losses suffered over the past 18 months as the winter season approaches as this would create more employment.
And, with cruise ships just starting to return to the island, Reader acknowledged that transport operators and craft vendors are not yet near where they were pre-pandemic.
“Now that the cruise ships are coming back we expect that transportation will pick back up, craft will pick back up. It's coming back gradually and we just have to be patient as we go along,” he said.