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KINGSTON, Jamaica; August 19, 2021: Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett has named a special task force to drive the process of vaccinating the island’s tourism workers, as part of efforts by the government to achieve herd immunity.
The new task force is co-chaired by the Tourism Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Jennifer Griffith and President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Clifton Reader.
The other members include Chairman of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Ian Dear; Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board, John Lynch; Director of Tourism, Donovan White; President & CEO, the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), Professor Gordon Shirley; Executive Director of Jamaica Vacations Ltd (JAMVAC), Joy Roberts; Acting Executive Director, TPDCo, Stephen Edwards; Executive Director of Chukka Caribbean Adventures and Chairman of the COVID-19 resilient corridors management team, John Byles; Senior Advisor and Strategist in the Ministry of Tourism, Delano Seiveright; and General Manager of Deja Resorts, Robin Russell.
"The task force will also include representatives from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and the Jamaica Defence Force and they will consult with various tourism stakeholders, both within the public and private sectors, to streamline and expedite the process of vaccinating tourism workers all across the island," explained Minister Bartlett.
In making the announcement Minister Bartlett underscored that the future success of the island’s tourism sector hinges on workers being vaccinated in order to stem the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. Among the persons to be targeted are workers in hotels, villas and guest houses, attractions, airports, cruise ports, craft markets as well as ground transportation operators.
"This task force has a very important job of getting our 170,000 tourism workers vaccinated. This is vital to the full recovery of the tourism sector and by extension the wider economy, because our tourism workers are on the frontline and if they are not fully vaccinated then our sector will not be able to recover in a safe and sustainable way,” he expressed.
The Minister was quick to note that tourism workers will not be mandated to be vaccinated. However, he again urged them to get vaccinated. “The vaccines are very effective in preventing hospitalization and death. So, I encourage all our tourism workers to capitalize on the opportunity to be vaccinated in order to safeguard your lives, your relatives as well as your communities,” Minister Bartlett expressed.
Mr. Bartlett emphasized that the Task Force will take a collaborative approach, which has proven to be very effective in managing the pandemic since March 2020, when the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Jamaica.
“I am confident that this united approach will be effective because it has been fundamental to our success in introducing our COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols, our innovative COVID-Resilient Corridors and the framework to facilitate the testing of visitors to the island. We will continue to work hand in hand with our tourism partners to guarantee the recovery of our all-important tourism sector,” he added.