THE Department of Tourism (DOT) hailed the decision of the government to expand the vaccination rollout to the next priority group, the A4 cluster, which now includes workers of the tourism industry and other economic and national government frontliners.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat expressed her elation over the announcement, citing the importance of inoculating every stakeholder in the tourism sector. She noted that the vaccination of the A4 cluster may begin next month or when the vaccine supply stabilizes.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. announced on Tuesday (May 18) the approval by the Cabinet of the recommendation of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) to start the vaccination of the A4 cluster “after May or when we will have a steady supply” of the vaccine.
“We at the DOT welcome this decision to include the A4 cluster among those prioritized for vaccination. There is no other way to ensure the sector’s survival and recovery but to vaccinate every tourism frontliner,” Puyat stressed.
The A4 cluster, which is fourth on the priority list the government’s national vaccination program, consists of workers of essential sectors, which now includes tourism frontliners. The first three groups covered medical frontliners, seniors, and persons with comorbidities.
Among the A4 cluster, commuter transport workers, employees of hotels and other accommodation establishments, and restaurant workers are particularly relevant to the Department, Puyat said. The DOT is still awaiting decision on its proposal in March to widen the group of prioritized tourism workers to include tour guides, tour operators, and other accredited workers and service providers.
She said frontline nature of the jobs of these workers requires face-to-face interaction with individuals and groups. The lifting of travel restrictions and the quick recovery of the tourism industry – and the national economy as a whole – hinge heavily on the health and safety of our tourism workers.
Last May 1, some 150 frontline employees of quarantine and non-quarantine accommodation establishments were inoculated during the symbolic vaccination of laborers. To date, a total of 1,612 employees of quarantine hotels have been vaccinated. They expressed confidence and gratitude after receiving their vaccine shots.
Leo Angelo Asiado, a member of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines said that he has peace of mind now that he has received a protection against COVID-19.
Edison Rosales, sales director at Microtel by Wyndham and Tryp by Wyndham, shared the same sentiment as he noted on the vaccine’s importance for every stakeholder in the tourism industry.
“It gives us confidence that we are protected from the virus as we continue to keep our badly hit industry rolling. As we engage with customer assistance and services, this also instills assurance as well to our clients,” Rosales stressed.
“We are grateful that the DOT has ensured that we in the tourism industry were placed at the higher priority as we move along with the vaccination program of the government,” he added.