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Seafarer critical worker extension to vaccination programme recommended on IMO’s Day of the Seafarer

Specialist travel management company, ATPI Marine & Energy, is calling for seafarers to be vaccinated as high-priority critical workers in global efforts to protect people from Covid-19 this Day of the Seafarer (25 June 2021). 

In particular, the business highlights the efforts of flag states, such as Cyprus and the Netherlands, who have begun to vaccinate all seafarers on flag-registered ships, and all seafarers who make a crew change in their respective countries. This builds on the strong measures already in place by these nations to treat seafarers as critical workers and facilitate crew changes. 

Nikos Gazelidis, chief commercial officer at ATPI’s Marine Division, said:

At the moment travel restrictions are based around quarantines and testing, however the time is coming when they will revolve around vaccination status. Today, on the IMO’s Day of the Seafarer, it is important that we look to the future and set in place plans to avoid unnecessary challenges. Each seafaring nation has different priorities when it comes to handling the pandemic, and vaccination programme timelines are not the same. However, ships need to continue to move around the world. To avoid future shortages of goods and services, and to protect the wellbeing of these essential workers, seafarers must be vaccinated as a globally-coordinated priority.” 

The shipping industry has a track record of collaboration, such as the Neptune Declaration, and has worked hard with global shipping and healthcare organisations to ensure ships and their crew can continue to sail as safely as possible. However, the meaningful steps required to see positive change – such as a seafarer vaccination programme – requires the support of globally aligned governments, and not just individual flag states. The recent announcements for the rollout of seafarer vaccinations in the Philippines and India are also very welcome. 

Gazelidis continues:

The efforts we see in Cyprus, the Netherlands, the Philippines and India are the result of the shipping industry cooperating with the governments to make vaccination programmes happen. Cyprus, in particular, proposed a practical and realistic approach for a global vaccination programme for seafarers which was adopted in the form of an ILO Resolution. When it comes to crew changes, the measures introduced by Cyprus were widely acknowledged not only by the shipping industry, but also by cruise ships which have included Cyprus in their itineraries for this summer period.  It is essential that industry institutions take charge and enhance the endeavours that have already happened with some flag states. Put simply, the industry has to get a grip and accelerate efforts to see seafarers vaccinated.” 

ATPI Marine & Energy’s call for greater coordination and pressure for seafarer vaccinations follows over a year of working in partnership with industry associations to support seafarers in returning home, or to continue to travel to ships. Activity has included delivering specially chartered flights for use by multiple shipping companies to allow crew rotations to take place in some of the world’s busiest port cities during times of crisis and closed borders. The business continues to work to encourage airlines to prioritise re-introducing some of the most popular routes for the maritime sector.

ATPI Marine & Energy has 100-years’ heritage in setting new standards in managing the complexities of crew travel. The team is strategically located in the core regions of focus for the marine and energy industries to allow for both sector and important regional expertise, delivering what really matters to its clients. ATPI Marine & Energy is part of the global travel and events business the ATPI Group.