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Apr 1, 2021

Tourism Stakeholders’ Turn to Get Vaccinated!

On Wednesday, Belize received a first batch of thirty-three thousand six hundred doses of AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX Facility.  It is a crucial development as the country continues on its vaccination programme to achieve herd immunity. Currently, two phases of inoculation are underway; phase one which involves frontline healthcare workers, older persons and those living with certain NCDs and phase two that gives way for teachers, police, parliamentarians and tourism stakeholders.  Today, a first round of tourism sector stakeholders over the age of forty got vaccinated. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

A first set of senior stakeholders from within the tourism industry got their jab today at the Best Western Biltmore Plaza in Belize City. It represents a step forward in getting these frontline workers inoculated as the tourism industry is rebounding.

 

Nicole Solano

Nicole Solano, C.E.O., Ministry of Tourism & Diaspora Relations

“The Minister of Tourism had negotiated eight thousand vaccines allocated for the tourism industry and now that we are in phase two C – tourism stakeholders over forty, I feel very happy that I was able to come this morning and actually get the vaccine myself.”

 

Also getting vaccinated today was president of the Belize Hotel Association, Ted Tejada, who says that the sector drives forty percent of the country’s economy and was hardest hit by the pandemic.

 

Ted Tejada, President, Belize Hotel Association

“We can start to see the rebounds of tourism, but we want to fast forward that. We want to put a push to it and we know if our frontline, our employees are safe, vaccinated, this is going to go faster than we expect. That is the reason why the Belize Hotel Association contacted the Ministry of Health. We wanted to lead the way, to show employees that this is important for them, for their own safety.”

 

There is some level of hesitation from some stakeholders within the industry though. Tejada says that persons need to educate themselves about the vaccine and its benefits in the fight against COVID-19.

 

Ted Tejada

Ted Tejada

“Right now we know that there is a lot of uncertainty and a lot of fear among employees. Actually yesterday, I had about five or ten employees that came to see me and they want to know why they should be vaccinated.  So we know that there is fear and information is necessary for us to assist them.”

 

Nicole Solano

“I think that we have to be optimistic, we have to look at the bright side, we need to do what is safe so that we can recover tourism. And to me, it was an opportunity, something we have to do. Yes there is a lot of fear, but we can’t make decisions base on fear; we have to make decisions based on the information that we have.”

 

Now, eight thousand doses really only translates to four thousand persons within the industry that has more thirteen thousand directly employed. C.E.O. in the Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, Nicole Solano says that there are multiple phases through which others will be vaccinated.

 

Nicole Solano

“What we’ve been doing is try to encourage the tourism industry stakeholders, especially the frontline workers, to come forward. So some of those other people will be getting vaccines under other categories. So if there are people who have underlying conditions or other categories. So there is no way that we are going to be able to cover all of the tourism industry under that, but we are hoping that over the coming months, when additional vaccines become available that the can come in.”

 

Ted Tejada

“I just spoke with the organizers to see if we can even target going into – what they did today, coming here at the Biltmore and doing the Biltmore staff. Or say doing it at the Mahogany Bay or Victoria House and trying to get most of the  employees around those hotels to come to a particular hotel and make it easier for them to get vaccinated.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.


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