Frontline personnel in the Tourism Sector are set to get vaccinated against COVID 19 , following the nationwide launch of the inoculation drive by the government today.

The  launch by the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife which  begins in Nairobi was presided over by Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary, Najib Balala in partnership with the Nairobi Metropolitan Services, Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (KAHC), Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO), Pubs and Restaurants Association (PERAK), among other stakeholders in the sector.

In his remarks, CS Balala said the program is a crucial step towards full resumption of operation by the industry which has been hard hit by the COVID 19 pandemic leading to closure and reduced staff.

“Tourism is one of the sectors of our economy that has been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and today is therefore an important day for the sector as it marks a crucial step towards the resumption of activities in the sector. Remember hospitality facilities like restaurants, Hotels and Bars have been closed because of the risk posed by interaction. Therefore, this is an important step towards building confidence in the sector,” said CS Balala.

He added that the first phase of the program will see 5,000 workers in the hospitality sector in Nairobi County get vaccinated, further revealing that the industry will be allocated a further 50,000 doses of the jab that will go into the programme.

“We shall begin vaccinating five thousand personnel in the county of Nairobi and then move on to the rest of the counties and we have been assured by the Ministry of Health that we shall be allocated another 50,000 doses to ensure that we cover a good number of frontline workers in the sector. Nairobi county has the highest number of facilities and more businesses have been affected here hence the need to first vaccinate workers as we move to other counties in the coming months. We shall ensure that this drive reaches all the 47 counties in the country,” CS Balala added

The target personnel for the program will be those working in high contact establishments and services in the Tourism and Hospitality sector such as bars, restaurants, accommodation facilities and tour drivers. CS Balala also  noted that the vaccination exercise will complement the protocols that have been put in place.

“With this program, and the continued adherence of the protocols by everyone, we can be assured that the sector will hopefully resume operations soon with minimum restrictions. This rollout of the vaccines should not be a reason to abandon the health protocols, prevention remains a crucial component of the national response to the pandemic”, CS Balala said.