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Tourism department and PHA hold Covid-19 awareness for tourism establishments |08 April 2021

Tourism department and PHA hold Covid-19 awareness for tourism establishments

Yesterday’s session in progress (Photo: Jude Morel)

The tourism department yesterday conducted the first in a series of Covid-19 awareness sessions, aimed at providing health and safety officers and focal points of tourism establishments with information on the Covid-19 pandemic and local situation, and the various practical health measures that they will need to implement during their daily operation, when assisting their clients.

The first session held at ICCS, Victoria yesterday from 9am to 12pm, saw good participation from focal persons who were attending the sessions, organised in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, either for the first time, as well as several others who partook in the first phase of awareness sessions held in 2020.

As was the case with last year’s training, the sessions are facilitated by public health officers Myra Bijoux and Hilary Desire, who together interact and brief participants through five key modules, including the roles, functions and responsibilities of focal persons, infection, prevention and control and surveillance, case detection and reporting.

Ms Bijoux in the beginning, highlighted the importance of organising such sessions so as to strengthen the capacity of the tourism sector to conduct surveillance of visitors, strengthen further the cooperation between the tourism and health sectors, as well as strengthen the monitoring and evaluation framework for the implementation of ‘new normal’ measures at respective establishments.

“We are giving information to the tourism establishments, because we know that when visitors arrive, they will be accommodated at the various establishments and it is therefore important that they are provided with information, and that they know what to do if a client is positive.

“Prior to any establishment being given the go-ahead to open, a visit is conducted in conjunction with the department of Tourism to evaluate if the establishment is putting into practice what it included in the guide it submitted to the department of health, and all the recommendations. After, there is continuous monitoring, with the department of tourism, to ensure that they remain up to date with the precautionary measures,” Ms Bijoux explained.

While the session has remained largely the same as that given last year, new elements have been added, reflecting recent developments. Director of risk management at the department of tourism, Philomena Hollanda, is of the view that such sessions need to be held periodically, as a refresher and to give focal points of tourism establishments ample opportunities to clarify any doubts and concerns with regard to operations during this challenging time.

“It is the same training as that given last year, but with new elements of course. Last year, when the health services were facilitating the training, they did not know whether there would be a vaccine. But this year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that vaccines are available, vaccines have been rolled out in Seychelles and the campaign is ongoing, as people are still receiving their vaccines. This is the new element which we introduced in the training and which we could not do so last year, due to the uncertainty as to whether there would be a vaccine,” Ms Hollanda noted.

Aside from organising such sessions, the tourism department also communicates with tourism establishments more directly and through its website, keeping them up to date with the latest health and travel advisories issued by the department and relevant authorities.

“The training is to reinforce what we are already communicating in writing, or when we visit their establishments and discuss on a one-on-one basis, the training reinforces all of this. It gives them more information in detail and is an opportunity to clarify any questions they have, with regard to their establishment, the procedures, the measures concerning Covid-19, new developments and what they need to do to adjust to meet the measures in their respective environments and service, or operations and when dealing with clients,” Ms Hollanda said.

“It is a partnership with the Ministry of Health, from the beginning when Covid-19 started, up to now. As we know, tourism is an important sector for the Seychelles economy, so we need the partnership between health and tourism, to ensure that the industry recovers, that people, both locals and visitors, feel safe but they can still enjoy their holidays without getting sick or without infecting locals. There are measures in place, they need to adhere to measures. Just as we are asking Seychellois to adhere to measures, so do tourists and other visitors,” Ms Hollanda stated.  

Owner of Lescapade Beach Villa, Begum Narjeon, assisted the awareness sessions in 2020, but was keen to attend again. Her establishment has already been certified to receive visitors, and she has since the reopening of the airport on March 25 received two couples.

“There are many services, and many positive things from the training. It serves to refresh my memory. We received two couples so far, and all has been well. Before we were fully-booked but now it has all fallen but I think it will pick up eventually,” she said.

A second session will be held on Friday April 9 at the Les Mamelles community centre.


Laura Pillay

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