Tourism industry insisting on army help for faster vaccination programme

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Various tourism business associations in the Balearics are calling on the regional government to ask the army to help with the vaccination programme. Representatives of the hoteliers, travel agencies, transport operators, restaurants and car-hire firms are all critical of the logistics, Maria José Aguiló, vice-president of the Mallorca Hoteliers Federation, speaking for them in expressing her concern. “The Balearic economy will be put at risk if the programme isn’t started before the summer season. The regional government should be pressing Madrid for swifter distribution and greater quantity.”

The associations’ view is that Madrid should be urged to make the army’s health services available and that there needs to be a campaign of mass vaccination around the clock and with no halt for fiestas. Francesc Mulet of the Aviba travel agencies association highlights “total improvisation” by the government. “There cannot be another 2020 this year. If there is, there will be widespread closure of businesses during the first half across the whole of the Balearics.”

Alfonso Robledo, president of the restaurants association within the Confederation of Balearic Business Associations, says that all means need to be used for the vaccination. These include the army and the Red Cross. “The aim is to have a tourism season, even if it is only four months.”

The president of the Association of Hotel Chains, Gabriel Llobera, believes that any help that can guarantee public health should be sought, “especially when this can bring about economic and employment reactivation”. There is, he notes, “business unease” at the slowness with the vaccination and feels that the government, if necessary, should buy its own stocks of vaccine. It had done this with the purchase of protective equipment for health personnel. “They need to be proactive, as economic activity this year is being put at risk. Business are already at their limits.”

Ramón Reus of the Aevab vehicle-rental businesses association insists that a “push” is needed. Otherwise foreign tourism markets will not consider the Balearics to be a safe destination. He believes that it has been “scandalous” that the health service hasn’t made it obligatory to vaccinate on fiesta days. “It’s as though the government can’t see what’s happening.”