DESPITE the battering of the tourism industry by COVID-19 about half of the workforce within that sector are back at work.
So said Ministry of Tourism Permanent Secretary, Donalyn Vittet during a televised update on the COVID-19 situation in the country last Thursday evening.
Vittet, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sharon Belmar-George, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and Deputy Police Commissioner Milton Desir, made up the panel for Thursday’s televised update about the pandemic locally.
“We have been able to return half of the tourism population back to work. We were at 14, 000, we’re right now at 7, 252 which is very, very remarkable. So while it is that there is cause for concern and for COVID, and there will always be, there are a number of successes,” Vittet said.
The tourism industry last year went through a crippling stage when Saint Lucia went into lock down mode in March of last year that resulted in the closure of airports.
A phased reopening of the country in June and the announcement of new travel protocols in July signaled efforts at returning the industry to normalcy but COVID had other plans and the normalcy expected by now has not returned.
The industry is now struggling to cope with the virus which now has a presence in at least three hotels on the island. The Ministries of Tourism and Health are now attempting to ease fears of a rapid spread of the disease, fears heightened by a COVID-related death of a visitor at one of the hotels and high numbers of positive cases in the industry.
Meanwhile the National Emergency Management Advisory Committee (NEMAC) met late yesterday afternoon to consult on measures to be put in place to curtail the spread of the virus. Just before press time yesterday speculations were rife about new COVID-19 protocols coming into effect. One such speculation hinted at liquor licenses being suspended.