Tourism must be ‘realistic’ over vaccination roll-out – Bahamas Tribune

Posted: March 31, 2021 at 5:32 am

By YOURI KEMP

Tribune Business Reporter

ykemp@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamian tourism industry must be realistic over the speed at which its employees can be vaccinated against COVID-19, one hotelier says.

Chris Morris, the Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marinas general manager, told Tribune Business that while he wants workers in the sector to be vaccinated as soon as possible these aspirations must be tempered by The Bahamas ability to secure the necessary doses.

Pointing to the presently limited number of COVID-19 vaccine shots available to the public, Mr Morris said blaming the government for not vaccinating tourism workers quickly enough was unfair. He added that The Bahamas cannot compare its vaccination roll-out pace to other Caribbean countries because many have been able to draw on their status as UK and US overseas territories to obtain supplies.

Mr Morris said: If we had the vaccines, then yes, I would love to have every hotel worker back, but is that realistic?

He was responding to comments by Kerry Fountain, the Out Islands Promotion Board executive director, who is urging The Bahamas to step up its game on vaccination efforts for tourism workers.

Mr Fountain was pointing to vaccinations taking place in the Turks and Caicos Islands, where 60 percent of hotel workers have been vaccinated already, and in Barbados, where just over 20 percent of the entire population has been vaccinated.

The Turks & Caicos, a British protectorate, received its first batch of vaccines from the UK government in early January, while Barbados received its first batch in early February. Both countries have smaller populations than The Bahamas.

Matthew Brear, Cape Santa Marias general manager, said: I think that the quicker the vaccine is rolled out, the better. I dont know the logistics facing the roll-out here in The Bahamas. Im unable to compare the logistics here versus those in the Turks.

Vernon Grant, general manager of Castaways in Grand Bahama, said: I think that the pace is adequate and sufficient because you have a lot of persons who are resistant to being vaccinated.

But I believe, as we progress and move forward, the momentum is going to pick up because persons will realise that they need that certification for travel. I think its going to ramp up even quicker.

Jeff Birch, owner/operator of the Small Hope Bay Lodge in Fresh Creek, Andros, said the vaccinations he has witnessed at Loyola Hall in Nassau have been carried out professionally and smoothly.

He warned persons opting not to take the vaccine to not listen to the conspiracy theories until you have confirmation from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on any potential side effects the vaccine may have.

The Bahamas received 20,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine in early March, and since that time has vaccinated 5,000 persons, averaging just over 1,500 jabs a week.

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Tourism must be 'realistic' over vaccination roll-out - Bahamas Tribune

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