A true tourism leader should not have an issue bringing changes. The Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism for Jamaica, has emerged as a regional leader taking issues by the horn.
Today in London and in a surprise sentence, Bartlett indicated: “LGBT travelers should feel relaxed traveling to Jamaica. It’s tourism for all in our country, regardless of gender, religion, handicap, or sexual orientation.”
Edmund Bartlett wanted to ease confusion and tension with the international LGBT travel community when speaking to eTN publisher Juergen T. Steinmetz.
From September 27-30, Jamaica will host in Montego Bay the UNWTO, Government of Jamaica and World Bank Group Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism.
Faced with two devastating hurricanes, many Caribbean countries and regions are facing uncharted times of rebuilding their travel and tourism industry. Therefore, this conference becomes essential for the region, and Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, had emerged as the top leader managing this crisis. Fortunately, Jamaica was not directly affected, so this gives Bartlett an opportunity to be the top regional leader facing this issue.
Today at the International Travel Crisis Management Summit in London, the minister suggested for Jamaica to host a global communication crisis center supported by nations around the globe to handle communication for global crisis situations, like a natural disaster, terrorist attacks, and others disasters relevant to world tourism.
The minister told eTN that the upcoming Jamaica conference is coordinating an international roadmap and fostering collaborative relationships for inclusive economic and social development via tourism. Organized by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Ministry of Tourism of Jamaica and the World Bank Group, in collaboration with Chemonics International, a leading international development firm, this conference will identify successful models and future initiatives of public-private partnerships (PPPs) that will contribute to sustainable tourism development globally.
Opening Jamaica up to more LGBT travelers and making high-spending LGBT travelers feel welcome is an important clarification in addition to what Jamaica’s government said in 2012.
In 2012, Jamaica said that it “is committed to the equal and fair treatment of its citizens, and affirms that any individual whose rights are alleged to have been infringed has a right to seek redress.” The government also claimed that “there is no legal discrimination against persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation” and that it “is opposed to discrimination or violence against persons whatever their sexual orientation. This is despite Jamaica’s sodomy laws still criminalizing sexual acts between men.
Today’s brave move by Minister Bartlett should be appreciated and may serve as an encouragement for other Caribbean countries. It’s also setting a welcoming tone to the upcoming UNWTO conference.
However, harsh laws and discrimination against LGBT travelers and residence remain in force in several Caribbean countries including Barbados and Grenada.