Travel Agent NewsNATAS calls for frontliners to receive priority for vaccinations.

Travel industry calls for vaccine priority

Air crew and frontline airport workers receive their Covid-19 vaccinations at Changi Airport.
Air crew and frontline airport workers receive their Covid-19 vaccinations at Changi Airport. Photo Credit: Changi Airport Group

Travel industry leaders in Singapore are hoping that industry frontliners will be given priority for vaccinations.

The National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS) has welcomed this week’s move by Singapore Airlines to vaccinate its entire workforce.

Everyone from pilots, gate agents, flight attendants, baggage handlers and others whose job requires contact with the public are being offered free coronavirus vaccines by the Singaporean government.

“It is definitely heartening to see the local aviation sector taking a big step forward on behalf of the industry,” said NATAS deputy president, Simon Er.

“We foresee this as a very positive step in rebuilding traveller’s confidence and potentially leads to reopening of international borders.”

Er said NATAS intends to explore the possibility of prioritising vaccination for its frontliners.

“If it works, it will be a promising road to recovery of the travel ecosystem, which will only take place when borders reopen.”

In Australia, Margy Osmond, the Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive said the country’s tourism sector had no hope of recovery while borders remained closed.

“The government is going to have to think very seriously how it supports this industry for the next couple of years — not just the next couple of months, if it wants to have a tourism industry when we actually reopen our international borders,” said Osmond.

In the United states, hospitality employees have not been included in the early phase of the vaccine rollout, but states can make their own decisions about who is essential.

Last week, Nevada announced a plan to prioritise casino hotel employees, a strategy that Virginia Valentine, president of the Nevada Resort Association, said in a statement would send "a clear message to visitors and meetings and convention organisers that Nevada is the world's safest travel and tourism destination" and "accelerate the consumer confidence needed to drive the visitor volume our economy depends on”.

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