The Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA) is spearheading a plan in response to COVID-19, through its COVID-19 Ambassador Programme.
The initiative is taking the everyday worker in the tourism sector and transforming them into national ambassadors, tasked with public education and promotion of COVID-19 safety protocols at the community level.
This is done by training these selected ambassadors in the various accommodations and attractions on safety protocols developed and being successfully utilised in the sector for the well-being of local and international tourists.
President of the JHTA, Clifton Reader, says that the project intends to fill a gap in the delivery of safety response measures in communities situated in and around tourism corridors.
“In September , we launched the programme that takes the trained staff from within hotels and other facilities to go out into their communities to sensitise the people and train them in the proper handling of the COVID-19 protocols, because we realised that there was a gap in the delivery,” Reader shared.
“When staff go home they will be exposed and they could really bring back COVID-19 to the hotels. So, through them we are making sure we educate and protect the community, and by protecting the community we protect the staff when they are not in the walls of the hotels, and by virtue, the guests will be safe as well,” he added.
Reader also pointed out that more than 30 ambassadors have, so far, been recruited under the programme that has been launched in a number of tourism hotspots across the country, to include Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Negril and Kingston. The initiative is to be launched in Portland and St Elizabeth.
“No matter who you are, COVID-19 can affect you and it is coming closer to every one of us. We are hearing of increased numbers to the point where stricter actions are being taken. So, we have to get serious about this thing,” he says.