Vaccine hesitancy must go if growth is expected, says tourism minister Bartlett

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Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, speaking at a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’ on September 21 at the agency’s head office in Kingston.[Photo: Adrian Walker]

By Caribbean News Global contributor

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Tourism minister, Edmund Bartlett, of Jamaica as reported by (JIS) says vaccine hesitancy must go for growth to take place, encouraged tourism workers to get vaccinated and announced that Jamaica earned US$1.2 billion from 1.1 million visitor arrivals since the start of the year.

Vaccine hesitancy

“There has been a lot of hesitancy and I want to make the point that nothing will destroy our hope of recovery than hesitancy and, worst of all, non-compliance to the protocols,” minister Bartlett added. “Stop listening to Anancy stories. Stop listening to people who are less informed, less educated than yourselves … and false narrative about the vaccines,” noting that five billion people in the world have already taken the vaccines. “There are some deep-seated fears and emotions and even religious and ideological views on vaccines … but that argument bears little value in the context of how medicine and science have combined with faith to heal the world,” the minister acknowledged

Emphasising the importance of vaccines in the recovery of the tourism sector, minister Bartlett said: “Our neighbours and our large markets such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada – and I am expecting Europe to follow soon – are all requiring fully vaccinated citizens as a basis for entry into their country and that their fully vaccinated citizens should not be going to countries that are not vaccinated”.

Minister Bartlett submitted that the tourism world could shun destinations where the workers of the industry are not vaccinated “because they don’t feel that you are healthy enough if you don’t have that protection”. He, however, indicated that nearly 50 percent of front-line workers within Jamaica’s tourism industry have already received at least one dose of the vaccine, and the goal is to have 70 percent fully vaccinated by the end of October; AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer vaccines are being administered in Jamaica.

Jamaica earned US$1.2 billion from 1.1 million visitor arrivals since the start of the year

“That performance is seeing a 22 percent increase in our earnings, up by some US$212 million and our arrivals are up from 800,000 last year to 1.1 million this year,” explained minister Bartlett, that most of the visitors to the island were from the United States, as other markets such as the United Kingdom and Canada had various coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, which prevented persons from travelling.

Minister Bartlett also advised that with the increase in earnings and visitor arrivals, the industry is playing a pivotal role in the country’s post-pandemic recovery, listed: “We brought back more than 60,000 workers to their jobs, which were lost as a result of the pandemic,” the industry has been “shrewd” in the COVID-19 recovery process and is focused on sustainability “as the centerpiece of the way forward”, added, “there is, therefore, no better industry to increase revenues for Jamaica, restore jobs and generate new opportunities in communities across the country than the tourism industry,” said minister Bartlett.

– With a file from Shanna K. Salmon

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