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BAGUIO CITY – Only 8.3 percent of the hotel and restaurant workers in the various accredited tourism-related establishments had been vaccinated since the government rolled out the mass vaccination program to contain the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country over five months ago.
Based on the data obtained from the Cordillera office of the Department of Tourism (DOT-CAR), only 454 of the reported 5,458 hospitality workers in the city’s accredited tourism-related establishments had been inoculated.
Local tourism industry stakeholders expressed hope that a similar vaccination of the hospitality industry workers which was recently spearheaded by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat in Boracay so that there will be a significant number of the registered workers will be vaccinated to help in achieving the projected population protection and eventual herd immunity among the said sector.
Under the present guidelines in the roll out of the mass vaccination program, hospitality industry workers belong to the 4th priority sector or those workers in the essential industries in the hierarchy of those that should be vaccinated.
Tourism officials stated that the data of the registered hospitality industry workers came from the reports of the accredited tourism-related establishments that are operating in the city pursuant to the guidelines in allowing the gradual and safe resumption of the permitted sectors.
According to some tourism industry stakeholders, particularly those in the hotel and restaurant sectors, hospitality industry workers must be considered as one of the priorities to be vaccinated because they deal with their customers face to face and that they are often exposed to the elements when reporting to work daily although there are still establishments that have imposed the rotation of their workers in reporting to work to allow everyone to be able to have a permanent source of income while the prevailing situation has not yet normalized.
While there were a significant number of workers that attempted to line up in the vaccination sites to take the chance of being vaccinated, representatives of the tourism sector claimed that they can no longer do so after there was a change in policy by the local government where limited stabs will be distributed to the members of the priority sectors who will be qualified to be vaccinated in the different inoculation centers in the city.
The number of tourism-related establishments that are allowed to operate are increasing by the day because of the ongoing inspections that are conducted in the said establishments before the same will be given the required certificate of compliance or the certificate of accreditation by the tourism department for having satisfied the prescribed requirements imposed by the inter-agency task force for the management of emerging infectious diseases.
Tourism is the city’s major economic driver primarily because of its cool and romantic weather complimented by the scenic tourist spots and peace-loving people aside from the fact that it had been designated as the country’s undisputed Summer Capital by the Philippine Commission in 1903. The said identity has remained to date amidst the effect of the rapid urbanization to the city’s current state. By HENT