UNWTO Disaster Recovery Program Action Plan for Caribbean to be crafted at SOTIC 2017
Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett will travel to Grenada this week where he will meet with key members of the Jamaica-led ‘UNWTO Disaster Recovery Working Group for the Affected States in the Caribbean’ hammer out a recovery action plan for tourism-dependent islands recently ravaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Speaking at a press briefing at the Jamaica’s Minister’s New Kingston offices on October 06, 2017 Minister Bartlett shared that, “In Grenada we will discuss the best way to assist tourism dependent member states, recently ravaged by natural disasters, at the annual State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC). We will then visit the most severely impacted countries and create a plan of action which we will launch during our upcoming UNWTO global conference in Montego Bay in November.”
At the 22nd Session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly, held recently in Chengdu, China, Jamaica was appointed to coordinate the newly formed ‘UNWTO Disaster Recovery Working Group for the Affected States in the Caribbean’. The working group is a tourism response mechanism for member states that have been recently impacted by powerful natural disasters such as hurricanes, tropical storms and earthquakes.
Minister Bartlett further shared that because islands in the region are so dependent on tourism to sustain their economies, it was important for strategies to be developed to strengthen the sector’s resilience to the effects of climate change and natural disaster, thus making it more sustainable.
“The tourism industry remains the most vital source of earnings and economic activity for most Caribbean islands, with region-wide tourism revenues estimated at over US$27 billion in 2016. The sector also expanded by an unprecedented 4.2% in 2016 as the region welcomed a historic 29 million visitors; over 1 million more visitors than in 2015. It therefore goes without saying that when our tourism sector suffers a setback, the Caribbean suffers a setback in a huge way,” the Tourism Minister noted.
During SOTIC, Minister Bartlett will also attend Caribbean Tourism Organization’s business meetings, including the CTO Council of Tourism Ministers and Commissioners on October 10, 2017. Additionally, he is expected to attend a special session on October 12 entitled “Recover and Rebuild – The future of Caribbean Tourism”, which will focus on the economic cost of disasters, including the potential impact on gross domestic product, employment, the cost to rebuild and the recovery time.
During the briefing, he also announced that he will be seeking relief financing for affected states in the region, during the Annual General Meeting of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, slated to take place on October 13, 2017 in Washington, D.C., USA.
While in Washington, he will also participate in the World Bank Group’s high-level ministerial closed-door simulation exercise on pandemics and tourism: “Travel, Tourism and Outbreaks – A Pandemic Simulation” The exercise will help participants to better understand the disruptive effects of pandemics on tourism and explore ways to minimize unnecessary impacts.
Minister Bartlett will be accompanied by Dr. Andrew Spencer, Executive Director of the Tourism Product Development Company and his senior advisor Dr. Lloyd Waller. They are expected to return to the island on October 14.