MANILA – The Department of Tourism (DOT) is pushing for the inclusion of tour guides, operators, and other accredited workers and service providers in the country's A4 vaccine priority group.

The DOT said it requested National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. to expand the vaccination priority list and include the said workers as the nature of their jobs requires face-to-face interaction.

"Not only will vaccination protect these workers from the Covid-19 virus as we prepare to welcome foreign and domestic tourists; it also serves as a firewall of sorts that will restrict the spread of the virus in our tourist destinations," it said in a statement Tuesday.

The tourism sector is among the most affected during the pandemic, with the country's foreign tourism receipts falling by 83 percent to PHP82.24 billion in 2020 from PHP482.16 billion the prior year.

The department said the lifting of travel restrictions and the quick recovery of the industry and the national economy as a whole "hinge heavily" on the health and safety of tourism workers.

"While we are grateful that Secretary Galvez has included those working in airports and quarantine hotels on the immunization Priority Group A4, we are hopeful that the other tourism front liners will be prioritized as well," it said.

Tourism front-liners fall within the A4 group or frontline personnel in essential sectors. Prior to the pandemic, the industry used to employ 5.7 million workers. (PNA)