MANILA – The government is targeting to inoculate the tourism workforce nationwide against Covid-19 until the end of the year.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19, said tourism is critical to reviving the economy.
“When the pandemic struck, the nation’s tourism sector took a major hit. We believe that in order for the industry to get back on its feet and safely open our economy, we need to vaccinate as many members of our workforce as possible,” Galvez said during the ceremonial inoculation of tourism industry workers at Oakridge Business Park in Mandaue City, Cebu on Friday.
At least five million workers are employed in tourism-related industries nationwide.
In Cebu, about 50 percent of Cebu province’s tourism workers are vaccinated while the Department of Tourism (DOT) aims for full coverage before Christmas.
DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said tourism workers include not only hotel staff but also those employed in restaurants, airports, and drivers, among others.
“Cebu is very important to us. By the end of October this year, 99 or 100 percent of tourism workers in Cebu must be vaccinated, the only way to open tourism in Cebu and the Philippines is for all to be vaccinated, everybody that tourists are in contact with. All over Asia, ang nakabukas lang na (the only operational) tourist destination(s), ‘yung (are those) with 90 percent or more vaccinated,” Puyat said.
Galvez said the NTF has approved the allocation of 20,000 doses weekly to expedite the inoculation of tourism workers.
“By providing our workers here in Cebu with an extra layer of protection against the virus, they will have more confidence to return to their jobs, which in turn, shall encourage tourism operators to increase their operational capacity and result in an economic revival here in the province,” he said.
Puyat said the vaccine supply will “benefit not only hotel and resort employees, but also workers in restaurants, airports, and other members of the informal economy who are doing business in tourist destinations”.
“These will cover everybody that tourists come in contact with,” she added.
Alfred Reyes, president of the Hotel Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu, reaffirmed their commitment to help the government in inoculating all tourism workers.
“Restarting the industry relies on the success of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign which requires individual voluntary participation to reduce the risk of both host and visitors. Vaccination is one of the key factors that can help revive both [the] domestic and international tourism,” Reyes said.
He said Cebu should fast-track its vaccination as event organizers, souvenir shops’ employees, boatmen, tour guides, and travel agencies are also dependent on domestic and international tourism.
The Philippines has received 14,798,750 vaccine doses from Sept. 1 to 23, bringing the total vaccine stockpile to 66,699,340 doses.
Galvez said 317,144 doses were allocated to Cebu province; 60,960 doses, Cebu City; 40,220 doses, Mandaue City; and 29,310 doses, Lapu-Lapu City.
A buffer supply of 46,990 doses was also set aside for the province, he added. (PNA)