As regional stakeholders ramp up efforts to woo back tourists and rebuild the sector in the aftermath of the fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jamaica Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, has called on Caribbean leaders to raise their voices collectively against vaccine inequity.
- Only one in more than 500 people in poorer countries has received the COVID-19 vaccination.
- At the current rate, the world’s poorest 92 countries will not be able to reach a vaccination rate of 60 percent of their populations until 2023 or later.
- Without equity in the distribution of vaccines, there will be no recovery for tourism and the economy.
“While one in four people in high-income countries has now been vaccinated against COVID-19, only one in more than 500 people in poorer countries has received a jab. Based on the current trend of vaccine inequity it is estimated that the world’s poorest 92 countries will not be able to reach a vaccination rate of 60 percent of their populations until 2023 or later,” Minister Bartlett lamented.
He was delivering the keynote address during a virtual forum on: “Tourism Diplomacy: Rebuilding Tourism Safely,” hosted by the Tourism Linkages Network (TLN), a division of the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF). The session was the first in a five-part online forum series, spearheaded by the TLN’s Knowledge Network.
Underscoring the importance of the industry, Minister Bartlett said credible evidence suggested that tourism has now earned the status of an industry that is too big to fail. In that regard, he added, “It is therefore imperative that the sector survives during and beyond the current crisis so that it can continue to fulfill its vital role as a significant catalyst of global economic recovery and growth.”
However, he stressed that without equity in the distribution of vaccines, there would be no recovery for tourism, especially for Caribbean islands which depend heavily on the industry.