The Department of Tourism (DOT) acknowledged the decision of the government to include the tourism industry and other economic and national government front-liners in the A4 priority list group for the vaccination rollout.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat cited the importance of vaccinating every stakeholder in the tourism sector and expressed her delight over the announcement.
She also noted that the vaccination of the A4 cluster may begin next month or when the vaccine supply stabilizes.
Last May 1, during the symbolic vaccination of laborers, some 150 frontline employees of quarantine and non-quarantine accommodation establishments were inoculated.
To date, a total of 1,612 employees of quarantine hotels have been vaccinated and conveyed their gratitude and confidence after receiving their vaccine shots.
Leo Angelo Asiado, a member of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines, said that he has peace of mind now that he has received protection against COVID-19.
Edison Rosales, sales director at Microtel by Wyndham and Tryp by Wyndham, shared the same sentiment as he noted on the vaccine's importance for every stakeholder in the tourism industry.
"It gives us confidence that we are protected from the virus as we continue to keep our badly hit industry rolling. As we engage with customer assistance and services, this also instills assurance as well to our clients," Rosales stressed.
"We are grateful that the DOT has ensured that we in the tourism industry were placed at the higher priority as we move along with the vaccination program of the government," he added.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. announced yesterday (May 18) that the Cabinet approved the recommendation of the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) to start the vaccination of the A4 cluster "after May or when we will have a steady supply" of the vaccine.
The A4 cluster is the fourth on the priority list of the government's national vaccination program. It consists of workers from essential sectors, which now includes tourism front-liners. The first three groups covered medical front-liners, seniors, and persons with comorbidities.
Puyat said commuter transport workers, employees of hotels and other accommodation establishments, and restaurant workers, are among the A4 cluster.
Last March, the DOT proposed expanding the group of prioritized tourism workers to include tour guides, tour operators, and other accredited workers and service providers. Until now, they await the decision of the national government.
The lifting of travel restrictions, the quick recovery of the tourism industry and the national economy as a whole, depends deeply on the health and safety of our tourism workers since the nature of the jobs of the tourism workers requires face-to-face interaction with individuals and groups Puyat said.
"We at the DOT welcome this decision to include the A4 cluster among those prioritized for vaccination. There is no other way to ensure the sector's survival and recovery but to vaccinate every tourism frontliner," she emphasized.