By Kadeem Joseph
The president of the association of vendors who ply their trade in the Heritage Quay vendors mall is welcoming the removal of the cruise tourist bubble that had previously limited interaction between the vendors and the visitors.
The bubble had allowed for only pre-approved or private tours conducted with fully vaccinated visitors and a few merchants around Heritage Quay, which proved a serious blow to vendors in the area, who had already been suffering from the pause to the industry in the first quarter of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The head of the Vendors Matter Association, Consuela Beazer Samuel told Observer that the pandemic hit the vendors hard.
“Our vendors have taken a big hit, a big hit, because many of us who don’t have an alternative means of income, they still have to go down … sometimes they don’t even make a dollar,” she explained.
Samuel said vendors had been complaining about the bubble since visitors were hardly frequenting the mall, despite ships being in the harbour.
“I am very, very happy to hear that his has changed and going forward tourists will be able to roam freely,” she said. “I think with that we will have a great improvement in the way vendors are able to sell their goods because we are really suffering in the vendors mall.”
The vendor also added that some, including herself, have had to close their stalls since the lack of sales meant that they could not meet the cost of rent to operate in the facility.
Meanwhile, Samuel said majority of those who seek to ply their trade in the vendors mall have been vaccinated, in accordance with the government’s mandate.
“I think that the ones who may not have been [vaccinated] would be the ones who have underlying conditions … it would be a very small amount,” she added. “I believe by now, almost 90 per cent of our vendors have been vaccinated.”
Samuel also maintains that while she is not against vaccinations, she has an issue with the government’s mandate since such a “forceful” measure would mean people are being pushed out of their jobs.
She is also hopeful that the remainder of the cruise season would see a gradual return to normalcy so that the many vendors, who rely on sales from tourists for a living, can earn to support themselves and their families once more.