MANDAUE CITY, CEBU (24 September 2021) — The Philippine government is keen on completely inoculating the country’s tourism sector workers against COVID-19 by the end of 2021.

This was the target set by cabinet secretaries and COVID-19 task force officials during the ceremonial vaccination for tourism industry workers held in Cebu on Friday.

“When the pandemic struck, the nation’s tourism sector took a major hit. We believe that in order for the industry to get back on its feet and safely open our economy, we need to vaccinate as many members of our workforce as possible,” said National Task Force against COVID 19 Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr.

There are currently more than five million individuals in the country who are part of the tourism workforce or employed in tourism-related establishments across the country.

The vaccine czar emphasized the need to vaccinate tourism workers, especially those working in major tourist destinations in the country such as Cebu.

Galvez noted that about 50% of the province’s tourism workers have already been vaccinated.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said the agency aims to fully vaccinate 99% of its tourism workers in Cebu before Christmas.

Romulo-Puyat shared that the NTF has committed to allocate a specific volume of vaccine doses for tourism workers that will come from the supplies to be shipped to local government units nationwide.

The tourism chief said Galvez had approved an allocation of 20,000 doses per week for tourism workers.

She explained that these supplies will benefit not only hotel and resort employees, but also workers in restaurants, airports, as well as members of the informal economy who are doing business in tourist destinations.

“These will cover everybody that tourists come in contact with,” Romulo-Puyat said.

Galvez said that, “By providing our workers here in Cebu with an extra layer of protection against the virus, they will have more confidence to return to their jobs, which in turn, shall encourage tourism operators to increase their operational capacity and result in an economic revival here in the province”.

According to the vaccine czar, out of the 27 million confirmed vaccine doses (excluding COVAX) to be delivered in the country, 20M are already allocated throughout the regions. At least 317,144 doses are allocated for Cebu province, 60,960 doses for Cebu City, 40,220 doses for Mandaue City, and 29,310 doses for Lapu-Lapu City.

Galvez added that a buffer supply of 46,990 doses has also been set aside for the province.

As of Sept 25, 14,798, 550 doses have arrived in the country in the month of September alone, bringing the total vaccine deliveries to 66, 699, 340 doses.

NTF Deputy Chief Implementer and testing czar Secretary Vivencio Dizon said that implementing units must “work harder for the rest of the province,” as the cities of Cebu have ramped up their respective vaccination programs.

Dizon also underscored that completely inoculating the tourism workforce can be achieved through the collective effort of the national government, local government units, and the private sector.

“Sa Cebu pinakita ang value ng public-private partnership. This pandemic has shown that when the private sector works with the government and the government opens its arms to the assistance of the private sector, things will happen and it will happen fast,” Dizon said.

Meanwhile, Hotel Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu President Alfred Reyes reaffirmed the group’s commitment to help the government in completely inoculating 100% of the tourism workforce.

He also encouraged tourism workers to volunteer and get the jab as soon as possible.

“Restarting the industry relies on the success of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign which requires individual voluntary participation to reduce the risk of both host and visitors,” Reyes said.

“Vaccination is one of the key factors that can help revive both [the] domestic and international tourism,” he added. END