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KINGSTON, Jamaica; March 13, 2021: At a recent keynote presentation during the largest travel trade show, ITB Berlin, Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett cautioned against rushing towards creating a COVID-19 vaccination passport based on the current rate of vaccine distribution.
Speaking with popular reporter Richard Quest during his presentation, Minister Bartlett said: “When I look at how the world intends to vaccinate itself over the next five years, and with the expectation that a 75% coverage will give some level of normalcy, I can't accept that we would begin to have vaccine requirement as a condition for travel immediately.”
ITB Berlin is considered one of the leading travel trade shows, held annually in Berlin, Germany. Minister Bartlett was a keynote speaker on the topic, ‘Resilience and Recovery of Tourism Destinations’.
The Minister went on to add that having this vaccine passport requirement could lead to severe inequities: “If this happens, given the disparity in distribution among larger and smaller countries, we are going to find the levels of inequities and discrimination that may be very disturbing if not disrupting to Global peace.”
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has now been cleared for use across North America, Europe and the Middle East, and vaccination campaigns have begun in at least 92 countries. Covishield, the India-produced version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, has already distributed hundreds of thousands of vials to countries in the Caribbean and Latin America including Dominica, Barbados, The Dominican Republic, Trinidad & Tobago, Argentina, Ecuador and now Jamaica.
Minister Bartlett closed by saying: “This disparity in vaccine distribution is evident as larger and more affluent countries have cornered 75% of vaccines available. Where that leaves small tourism dependent countries such as Jamaica is in a state where we are going to be left behind. So, if the politics of vaccines is to be played out, then smaller countries are going to be left behind, which will cause disruptiveness not just among these smaller countries but in the global space.”