Local hospitality and tourism management called on administration Mia Mottley to immediately introduce mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for all employees in the industry or witness the collapse of a sector that earns 40 % of the island’s valuable foreign currency.
In a paid press release issued on Sunday following a meeting on Friday, the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) urged the government to support its call that “all employees in the sector be required get vaccinated against COVID-19 before December 1. “
The BHTA said this would ensure the country is ready and well equipped for the official start of the 2021 winter tourist season.
“The BHTA believes that unless immediate action is taken, there will be a collapse of the tourism sector which directly employs 16,000 people and several thousand more in support services,” warned them. players in the hotel and tourism industry.
The association said it was “extremely” concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 environment prevailing in Barbados, including workers, businesses and the economy in general.
Seeking to justify its arguments for mandatory vaccinations, BHTA has cited the increase in hotel cancellations due to a significant increase in deaths and cases in recent months, the decision of a number growing number of potential visitors who only choose hotels with fully vaccinated staff, the slow pace of vaccination on the island and the negative impact on health care delivery due to an overwhelmed system.
“The current situation is intolerable and requires immediate action. It is against this background that the Barbados Hotels and Tourism Association calls on the Government of Barbados to immediately institute mandatory vaccinations for all employees in the hospitality and tourism industry, which is considered as high risk, ”the statement said.
“Continued delay in implementing this policy will lead to an increase in cancellations, as our accommodation members have informed that their guests increasingly need to interact with fully vaccinated staff,” the association said. .
“In addition, our accommodation members report that they are experiencing an increase in cancellations due to the low vaccination rate in Barbados and in the tourism sector as well, due to the 9pm curfew and a certain many other protocols, which are in place, largely for the protection of people who have not been vaccinated, ”the statement added.
Hospitality and tourism executives have warned that the cruise ship industry has also seen cancellations, which they plan to increase.
They also argued that the government’s efforts to increase vaccination rates have not worked effectively.
“The government’s efforts in providing free tests, free vaccination and free rehabilitation care, coupled with consultations and communication to improve vaccination rates have failed to significantly increase the number of people. receiving vaccines, ”BHTA said.
Stakeholders explained that the position defended by the association is built on the need to safeguard and protect workers and companies, which facilitates these employees.
Industry leaders have even gone so far as to appeal to workers’ representatives to support their call for mandatory vaccines.
“The obligation to be vaccinated is not new for the hotel and tourism sector. The BHTA and the Barbados Workers Union have previously agreed that housekeeping workers whose jobs involve handling guest laundry and cleaning guest rooms and public areas should be vaccinated against the virus. hepatitis B and tetanus in accordance with the medical protocols established for this vaccination, ”the hoteliers recalled. They argue that the COVID-19 disease is significantly more contagious and dangerous than the hepatitis B virus.
Industry executives said over the past nine months they have pleaded with the government to address several issues in the sector, but to date no significant progress has been made on these issues.
“The Government of Barbados’ belated responses to the tourism sector are of great concern to the association and exude a contemptuous attitude towards an industry which contributes significantly to the economic and social fabric of the island,” the hoteliers said.
The BHTA has expressed its readiness to meet with the government and engage in dialogue on issues of concern. (RP / EJ)