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The Government, in partnership with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), has launched a [coronavirus] COVID-19 Ambassador Programme, geared towards promoting proper hygiene and peer encouragement in the tourism sector, to prevent the spread of the virus.

Since the Government reopened the borders for the entry of tourists into the country after the declaration of the pandemic, there have been calls for measures to be put in place to prevent further increase in imported cases through the arrival of tourists.

To support the preventative measures, the JHTA decided to create the Ambassadors Programme, which the Government has endorsed and has provided some funding.

At the launch of the programme on Tuesday (November 24), at the R Hotel in New Kingston, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, said the Ministry is fully behind the initiative.

“Every individual who is involved in this industry must embrace this, and let us grow out into the hinterlands. Let’s go into the alleys and into the hills and the valleys and all across Jamaica carrying this message, that the only way we can secure the economy of Jamaica and secure the health of our people is through abiding by the protocols that have been established,” the Minister emphasised.

Mr. Bartlett noted that although the world is expecting vaccines soon for COVID-19, personal responsibility needs to take precedence for the prevention of its spread.

“We hear of one, then we hear of two, then we hear of three, and now we’re hearing of some others that are coming. Yes, we welcome vaccines, but we must also remember in the process that vaccines are not the answers in full. What a vaccine does is to build resistance and to enable you to fight the virus when it comes, but it does not eliminate it,” he said.

“The only way to eliminate it [COVID-19], is for us to be preventative in our actions and in our practice, so let us not sit and say ‘well the virus is going to disappear because a vaccine has been found’; no. It will go a long way in helping us to manage it and to do better. It will reduce the number of us infected, of course, and it will reduce the number of us that will die,” the Minister added.

The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has provided 10,000 masks for the programme and committed to purchase other equipment needed. The Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) will also work with the organisers of the programme.

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