The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) reaffirms our commitment to the responsible resuscitation of Barbados’ tourism and hospitality industry. Emerging from discussions of the BHTA membership held on Friday, July 23, 2021, recommendations for the vaccination and testing protocols for persons employed by our members have been agreed to.
We reiterate that our primary concern remains the health and safety of our employees, guests and Barbadians. We are cognizant that vaccines are crucial for a safe, productive and healthy working environment, as well as the future survival of this vital sector.
The BHTA fully supports and will continue to strongly encourage all employees in the industry to get vaccinated. It is our position that regular testing will not be required for those employees who are fully vaccinated and provide proof of an approved course of vaccines.
Furthermore, the Association will be lobbying Government for unvaccinated tourism employees and those that are not fully vaccinated or who will not disclose their vaccination status, to be required to be tested weekly for COVID-19, or otherwise as stipulated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. It is our expectation that these tests will be facilitated under the current arrangements through our public health system
To assist with this process, members have given the assurance that employees will be allowed the necessary time off to be tested. However, the BHTA’s position is that any costs associated with testing should be the full responsibility of the employees.
The Association supports mandatory vaccination of employees, especially in critical sectors such as tourism, hospitality and health, however we also recognize that at present, there is limited access to the necessary quantities of approved vaccines for the entire country. We are also aware that some employees may choose not to be vaccinated for religious, medical and other reasons.
This reinforces the importance of frequent mandatory testing of unvaccinated employees, as part of our efforts to protect all workers and minimize against the spread of the ever-mutating COVID-9 virus. The Association also recommends that, going forward, members should request proof of full vaccination status from all new applicants to be considered for employment.
It is equally important for all current employees, particularly those that are unvaccinated, to be continually sensitized and encouraged to maintain protocols, not only while on property and on-duty, but consistently in their daily activities when off-duty as well.
To facilitate this continued education, the Association will pursue collaboration with Government, industry partners and other relevant organisations, to develop specific educational activities and workshops on the importance of being vaccinated and adhering to protocols. We also intend to join forces with our private-sector partners to develop a national vaccination campaign.
Few sectors have been harder hit by the continued and unpredictable cycles of transmission and lockdowns than our tourism businesses and staff. Our members are ever cognizant of the debilitating effect this pandemic has had on this industry and, by extension, the wider society and economy of Barbados.
So, while we will continue to follow the health and safety protocols currently in place to help us navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we are ever mindful that the only way for us to move forward is to have policies that mitigate against the spread of this virus to our employees and our communities.
On behalf of our members, the BHTA recommits to working with Government and the private sector to ensure that the sustainable development of the tourism industry continues to significantly contribute to the economic growth and viability of our people.
Chairman – Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association