With incremental steps undertaken to a full reopening of our international border, work on ensuring that our tourism operators and relevant stakeholders can discharge their duties safely in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, has been progressing well and nearing completion.
This initiative called the Minimum Standard Extra Care training strives to embed COVID-19 safe measures into the daily operations of the tourism businesses with the aim of alleviating risks of COVID-19 transmission amongst and between tourism industry workers and visitors.
It is grounded in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Ministry of Health and Medical Services in 2020.
Since then 724 tourism operators and workers both in Honiara and the Provinces benefited from this Minimum Standard Extra Care training package with many now operating their tourism businesses with COVID-19 safe measures being observed. All provinces have been covered with the training, with Rennell and Bellona the latest group to undergo the training last week This week and the next will see the final groups of tourism operators and stakeholders in Temotu and Makira province undergo the training.
Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Mr. Bunyan Sivoro said that the Ministry had already foreseen that while the sector will be severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, its survival amidst COVID-19 pandemic and recovery once situation improves and borders reopen, is its ability to swiftly get back into business.
“In doing so, it is critical that we make sure all our tourism operators can continue to discharge their duties safely without risk to themselves and our visitors. That is why we have undertaken this initiative and it is a very important training that will contribute towards a healthier and hygiene oriented tourism industry in the country explained Mr. Sivoro.
While thanking the facilitators and those engaged in the implementation of the initiative, Mr. Sivoro congratulated hundreds of participants who have received their certificates from the trainings and encouraged them to uphold what has been learned in the training and continuously practiced them as the country heads towards full reopening of its international borders.
In echoing similar sentiments of acknowledgment, Health Permanent Secretary Mrs. McNeil said that health is pleased to continue providing technical support as part of its obligation towards this initiative.
“More importantly its good to see operators are putting into practice what’s been taught in the training especially as we progress to full reopening of our border meaning that the risks of other COVID variants entering and spreading in our communities will be high though is severity is anticipated to much less than what we have experienced”, said Mrs. McNeil.
She further explained that COVID-19 safe measures are not only to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 but can help improve our personal hygiene and protect us from many other infectious diseases.