As part of the country’s economic recovery efforts, representatives of the Ministries of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) and the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour (Ministry VSA), recently held a virtual meeting with a majority of the tourism industry’s stakeholders to discuss how to further profile the importance of the country’s vaccination campaign, the latter, seen as a key instrument in the further economic recovery of the nation.
The goal is to vaccinate at least 70% of the local population by June 1st in order to achieve what epidemiologists refer to as “herd immunity,” i.e., where a sufficient number of people in a community become immune to an infectious disease.
As Minister of TEATT, “I would like to thank the private sector for their participation and contribution and look forward to their continued cooperation and support in this important endeavor.
“Our national recovery is dependent on the current vaccine strategy along with the other continued observance and application of COVID-19 public health and safety protocols within the community. Everyone has a role to play in our recovery effort,” said Minister of TEATT Ludmila de Weever on Monday.
During the meeting, participants provided suggestions on how to encourage staff to receive vaccinations, including financial incentives and non-financial incentives such as time-off, hotel stays, as well as owners and managers leading by example and getting vaccinated. Some owners, managers, etc., have indicated they have already done so.
Additionally, it was also suggested allowing the Human Resource (HR) managers to assist employees - and their immediate family members - with the registration process to increase the number of registrations, in particular amongst those that are not tech savvy. The
government has agreed to send hard copies of the registration forms to the various businesses and business organizations, to distribute to their employees and others in order to further facilitate the registration process.
The importance of communicating in different languages was also stressed and registration in the three main languages (English, Spanish & Creole) was also seen as an asset in getting more persons to register for the vaccine.
The stakeholders were also informed of the possibility to arrange information sessions with the staff to address some of their concerns, as well as a shuttle service to and from the vaccine administering sites for staff and their immediate family members.
Lastly, the business representatives were encouraged to incorporate vaccination messaging in their places of business and via their ad campaigns.
The meeting concluded with all indicating a willingness to help the Government reach the target goal of herd immunity before the start of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season.
Businesses interested in scheduling group vaccinations should contact the Ministry of VSA Collective Prevention Service (CPS) Epidemiologist, Sanne van Kampen at firstname.lastname@example.org. For the scheduling of group information sessions, they should contact Bart van /de Meijden at email@example.com
The meeting was attended by representatives of the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trades Association (SHTA), St. Maarten Timeshare Association (SMTA), Restaurant Association, Port St. Maarten, local fuel suppliers, major food wholesalers, hardware importers, various restaurants, and the Indian Merchants Association (IMA). Separate meetings will be held with the Airport and its concessioners, the Taxi associations, and the St. Maarten Marine Trades Association (SMMTA) in the near future.