Tourism frontliners now included in priority groups for vaccination program

Published February 5, 2021, 4:35 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat lauded the government’s COVID-19 task force for granting the department’s request to include tourism frontline service workers in the list of priority groups for the country’s vaccination program.

Tourism chief Bernadette-Romulo Puyat (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“It is, indeed, critical for our frontliners, especially those who continue to man our ports of entry and those who serve at accommodation establishments that have been repurposed as quarantine facilities,” Puyat said in a statement on Friday, February 5.

“These personnel have been there at the onset of the pandemic – had risked life and limb during the repatriation efforts and up to now, remain at risk with the constant exposure with incoming travelers and guests from all parts of the world,” she added.

Malacañang announced also on Friday that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases adopted the resolution presented by the Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (iNITAG) and the Department of Health Technical Advisory Group (DOH-TAG) which contains a prioritization framework for national, local, public and private distribution and prioritization criteria for the vaccination program.

Under the approved iNITAG Covid-19 Vaccines Resolution No. 1, tourism frontliners fall within Priority Group iv. A4: Frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF as essential during the enhanced community quarantine.

“Protection through the vaccine and health care support systems will primarily boost their immune system and more importantly, fortify their mental and emotional core to continue working under stressful COVID conditions,” Puyat said.

The Tourism chief is also looking forward to the inclusion of the tourism industry workforce at recently-opened destinations in the country that operate facilities and serve guests directly, as part of the priority groups for vaccination.  

“Our sector’s human capital is essential to the country’s socio-economic recovery,” Puyat added.

The country’s tourism industry used to employ 5.7 million workers before the pandemic.

The United World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported in January a sharp decline of 72 percent or at least 1 billion fewer in international tourist arrivals from January to October last year — calling 2020 the “worst year in tourism history.”