Vaccination key to tourism recovery — Henzell

TREASURE BEACH, St Elizabeth — Prominent south coast hotelier Jason Henzell is among those in the tourism industry looking forward to Phase II of the Government’s vaccination programme, as he believes the sector is starting to see good prospects for recovery.

“We are starting to see a few guests come back from America, now that they have been vaccinated. We are really looking forward to Phase II when the hotel workers can start to be vaccinated as well,” said Henzell who is also south coast representative for the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA).

He stressed that Jamaica needs to have a strong vaccination plan in order to have a recovery of the sector which has been hard hit by the effects of COVID-19 on travelling.

“If our (Jamaica’s) population doesn’t have a good programme going, the truth is that the North American guests who are looking at the Caribbean may choose other locations in the Caribbean which would be further devastating to our tourism industry,” he told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview.

Henzell, who also serves on the National Vaccine Commission, is imploring Jamaicans to trust the findings of international health organisations regarding the safety of COVID-19 vaccinations.

“We need to trust the findings of the World Health Organization and Pan American Health Organization. We need to trust the science, because, in my mind, it is going to be our only way out of this thing,” he stressed.

“The fact that the vaccines are being rolled out now, I think that people are starting to feel a bit more comfortable about getting the vaccines. I hope and pray that we will have a successful vaccine campaign and programme,” he added.

With investments in the delivery service industry now booming due to restrictions imposed by the Government, Henzell is hoping for the E-commerce National Delivery System (ENDS) to be quickly expanded islandwide.

“The ENDS pilot project for the delivery of food, I would like to see that expanded out into the urban and rural areas as soon as possible, because I think it is a good idea for the delivery economy [that] needs to be carefully managed,” he said.

“I hope that the pilot doesn’t take too long, because the delivery economy should be able to coexist with the protocols,” he added.

He is in agreement with the Government’s imposition of weekend lockdowns given the pressure on the country’s health sector.

“The lockdown was necessary, it is tough for business; there is no question about that [because] there will be a drastic decline in business across the country, but the truth of the matter is what is happening with our spiking cases and the shortage of hospital beds, it is an unfortunate reality that we have to do this,” Henzell stressed.

“It really takes me back to last Easter which was the first time we were really closed down and you know it was almost inconceivable back then for instance, you were no longer allowed to go on the beach,” he went on.

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