UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai has a message for Caribbean Tourism Stakeholders

UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai has a message for Caribbean Tourism Stakeholders

The UNWTO conference on jobs & inclusive growth at the Montego Bay Convention Center in Jamaica has been going overtime today. Among the many celebrities speaking Monday afternoon was outgoing UNWTO Secretary General  Dr. Taleb Rifai explaining tourism resilience. The UNWTO Secretary-General said travel and tourism are bringing us together and it makes it a better world.

He announced establishing a global crisis network center in the Caribbean to respond to any crisis anywhere in the world. Tourism should take a leading place in crisis management.

This was echoed and confirmed by Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, the proud host of this conference.

This special session on building resilience in the face of natural disasters in both a humanitarian and economic necessity, especially for regions like the Caribbean where tourism is often the major source of income and fuels the islands economies and societies. Therefore it is essential for the region to have a functioning crisis preparation management and recovery process that involves both the private and the public sectors. According to Rifai, effective media outreach is utmost important, and it cannot be just statements from the minister saying how good everything is.

Rifai endorsing Jamaica’s minister’s brainchild of opening a crisis resilient center in the Caribbean that would take charge of any disaster anywhere in the world was received by applause.


The roundtable included Luis Almagro, Secretary General OAS, Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, Jamaica, Cardigan Conner, parliamentary secretary for tourism, Anguilla, Hugh Rile, Secretary General and CEO, CTO, Frank Comio, CEO and Director General Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, Kim Hurtault- Osborne, Executive Secretary for Integral Development, OAS, Virginia Messina, Director Caribbean Recovery Taskforce, WTTC, Sandra Carvao, Chief Communication and Publications Officer, UNWTO, Abel Matutes, Director Palladium Hotel Group, and Prof. Geoffrey Lipman, co-founder Sun X and president International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP).

Lipman said to bank on our children and grandchildren and explained his resilience education and the Maurice Strong Legacy Scholarships.

After the session, Xu Jing, UNWTO’s Regional director for Asia and Pacific explained the potential of Chinese Tourists also for the Caribbean. Cuba had a visa-free policy with China sometimes, and already welcomes 49,000 tourists a year. Jamaica also has a visa-free arrangement with China and almost 5,000 Chinese visitors stayed in Jamaica. There is a lot of room for expansion looking at the arrival numbers going into the millions the United States enjoys.

This interesting and well-received session was moderated by Carlos Vogeler, Executive Director, UNWO.