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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Feb 4, CMC – The Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Monday said the recently launched Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre will help region recover and thrive from disasters.
The facility was launched in Jamaica last week.
“A lot has been said about the environmental challenges that hurricanes present but they are perhaps the single largest threats to our economies. The Caribbean Development Bank did a study years ago which showed that a large portion of the debt on the books of member countries is due to borrowing to rebuild infrastructure ravaged by storms and hurricanes,” said CTO chairman Dominic Fedee.
“This has resulted in a high debt-to-GDP ratio in various member countries and consequently a serious constraint to growth. So our vulnerability to hurricanes and extreme weather conditions have a debilitating effect on natural disasters,” he said, stressing the challenges the Caribbean region faces in recovering from natural disasters and the lasting effects of such adversities.
He said the resilience centre will play a hugely important role in helping the region to recover from such crises, and to thrive.
The centre, which is being housed at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) is being designed to help vulnerable states across the world to recover quickly from natural disasters. It will specifically target destination preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions and/or crises that threaten economies and livelihoods globally, with real time data and effective communication.
Fedee, who is also St. Lucia’s Tourism Minister, in emphasizing the timeliness of the centre, referred to a study by the World Bank which found that disasters impact gross domestic product in developing states at a rate 20 times higher than in industrialised nations, causing greater disruption and severe consequences for vulnerable members of society.
He said the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre would ensure that the region would continue to benefit from the economic, social, cultural, and historic value of tourism, which is its primary income earner.
The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Nestor Mendez, who spoke at the launch of the facility said its establishment in the Caribbean, is not only vital but also “very timely.”
Mendez said the centre was being opened 14 months 4 months since the adoption of the Montego Bay Declaration, following the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conference on sustainable growth in November 2017.
He described it as “nothing short of remarkable.
“It is not just a remarkable achievement but also a testament to the hard work and determination of the Government of Jamaica,” Mendez said, noting that while travel and tourism contributes to more than 10 per cent of world output and nearly 10 per cent of employment worldwide, the sector nevertheless remains vulnerable to threats, challenges, and disruptions of various sorts, especially in relation to climate change and natural disasters.
“For the OAS, the issue of resilience remains a critical one. The organization has played an integral role in supporting efforts to enhance resilience in the tourism sector in the Caribbean for many years,” he said.
In the aftermath of the destructive 2017 hurricane season in the Caribbean, the OAS hosted a meeting with Caribbean leaders and international business mogul, Sir Richard Branson, as well as several international institutions and private sector officials.
“This meeting sought to put together a broad-based multi-sector coalition to mobilise private sector funding of climate change resilience initiatives in the region, as the foundation for urgent action,” Mendez explained.