Jamaica Hosts Inaugural Tourism Resilience Summit

All is set for Jamaica to host the inaugural Tourism Resilience Summit of the Americas at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Regional Headquarters, Mona, St. Andrew, on Thursday (September 13).

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is slated to deliver the keynote address at the opening ceremony. The theme of the Summit is ‘Tourism Resilience through Global Synergies’.

Stakeholders from Jamaica, the Caribbean and wider Americas region are among the participants to attend the Summit, which is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Tourism, in partnership with the UWI.

The event is part of the Ministry’s effort to build resilience across the Caribbean and globally to what Portfolio Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says are wide-ranging disruptive challenges to the industry.

These, he notes, include climate change, cybercrime, epidemics and pandemics, and terrorism.

The Summit will also serve as a precursor to next year’s official launch of the Government’s Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre, which will be housed at the UWI’s Mona Campus.

Mr. Bartlett was speaking at a media briefing at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices on Tuesday (September 11).

He said the Summit’s staging is timely, in light of the tourism industry’s heightened vulnerability over the last 50 years, to the aforementioned challenges.

“Because of its very character, [tourism] is susceptible to all sorts of shocks, both endogenous and exogenous, and these can have deleterious impact on economies and also on the pace of development as well as the scale and scope of developments in [tourism-dependent] countries,” the Minister noted.

In the same vein, Mr. Bartlett said tourism has been and remains one of, if not the most resilient of all industries, pointing out that “it bounces back quickly and grows”.

“It has grown exponentially over the last 50 years and has grown faster than all other industries. But, more importantly, it has grown more sustainably than all other industries, [as] when other industries have faltered and lost their significance as global contributors, tourism continues to rise,” he added.

In this regard, Mr. Bartlett said Thursday’s Summit aims to assess existing and emerging disruptions related to tourism management globally, and the risk of these to the global tourism product; and identify a synergetic, strategic and operational framework for partnerships between and among major governmental, non-governmental and business entities to address and develop mitigation strategies for these disruptions.

He indicated that presentations will be made by some of the leading experts on crisis management and disruption detection.

They include Professor Lee Miles of Crisis and Disaster Management Centre, Bournemouth University, United Kingdom; former United Nations World Tourism Organization Secretary General, Dr. Talib Rifai; Head of the Caribbean Public Health Agency Tourism and Health Programme, Dr. Lisa Indar; along with British High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Asif Ahmad; and the UWI’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Global Affairs, Ambassador Richard Bernal.

The focus themes include ‘Developing Awareness and Sensitisation Strategies’, ‘Designing Capacity Building Programmes’, ‘Resource Mobilisation’, ‘Development of Crisis Management Systems’, ‘Communication Management’, ‘Recovery Management Planning’, ‘Building Global Networks for Tourism Resilience’, and ‘Development of Risk-Reduction Systems’.

“We are excited about the prospects of this, the first (Summit) of its kind in the region, and we hope to have a document from it – a blueprint – that will help to guide the world in discussing and treating with disruptions of the nature and type that we have indicated,” Mr. Bartlett said.