(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday welcomed plans for the development of a Global Centre for Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management in Jamaica, to coordinate a global response to threats to the hospitality industry.
Speaking at a Tourism Resilience Summit at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Thursday, Holness noted that the Caribbean has become the most tourism-dependent region in the world.
He said that with the industry being the single largest generator of foreign exchange in 16 of its 28 territories, and promoting growth in the region, it has to take the lead coordinating responses to the threats endangering its survival.
However, he said that while regional tourism has been resilient to threats like natural disasters and climate change, there were other lurking dangers, like terrorism and political instability, which could easily disturb the balance and which require global cooperation,
“We have accepted the imperative that we must enhance our adaptive capacity and strengthen our resilience. We know that in order to survive we must recognise our vulnerabilities and peculiarities, and integrate an adaption into our development in all areas to ensure sustainable development,” the prime minister said.
Holness, the keynote speaker at the event, however, played second fiddle to Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, who was hailed by all the speakers, including the prime minister, for his role in promoting the development of the centre, which is expected to be eventually housed by the university and operated by an international board.
At a briefing which followed the opening ceremony for the day-long summit, held under the theme “Tourism Resilience Through Global Synergies”, Bartlett noted that its genesis was last year’s United Nations World Tourism Organization conference in Montego Bay, St James, which ended with what was called the “Montego Bay Declaration”.
He noted that there were three legacy outcomes, including a call for multi-destination tourism, as a strategy for the industry to address new and distant markets.
“That is very much on track, and we have had MoUs (Memorandum of Understanding) signed between Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Mexico,” he told the briefing.
He also announced that there will be a summit in Jamaica in November, at which the board of the centre will start hammering out a product for the market.
“We can’t have multi-destination without a product, and to enable that product, we have a need for collaboration between the governments, the private sector — the hotels, tour operators and airlines — and we need to have a clear understanding as to the policies that have to be harmonised, and the synergies that need to come together to enable a seamless movement of visitors within the countries that have agreed to multi-destination activities,” Bartlett explained.
He also addressed the need to establish small — and medium sized tourism enterprises, as a critical tool for job creation and inclusive growth, as well as the establishment of the global tourism resilience and crisis management centre with an observatory.
“I am pleased that in just about 10 months after the deliberations (in Montego Bay), we are, today, having the first of what will be a series of colloquiums, think tanks, sessions, and general conferences on crisis management, but more specifically focus on resilience, because resilience is really decisive,” he said.