Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett says, newly-appointed Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Zurab Pololikashvili, has pledged his full support for the establishment of the first Global Tourism Resilience Center in Jamaica.

The center, which was first announced during the recently concluded UNWTO Global Conference at the Montego Bay Convention Center, St. James, will be tasked with creating, producing and generating toolkits, guidelines and policies to handle the recovery process.

It will also include a Sustainable Tourism Observatory, which will assist preparedness, management and recovery of crises which impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods.

The Minister, who met with the Secretary General on January 15 at the UNWTO Headquarters in Madrid, shared that “The UNWTO will spearhead with us the building out of the facility. They will also assist in the solicitation of resources from a number of multilateral partners and other countries that have an interest in resilience building.

They will also help us to target countries that have similar vulnerabilities as us in the Caribbean and have some experience in building capacity to deal with disruptive events such as as hurricanes like the ones we had recently, earthquakes, cybercrimes and cyber-attacks, terrorism and health issues that are pandemic or epidemic.”

The Minister also disclosed that the UNWTO will be using Jamaica as a model — particularly the five key networks of the Tourism Linkages initiative which includes: Gastronomy; Shopping; Entertainment and Sports; Health and Wellness; and Knowledge.

“Jamaica has set a pace and the UNWTO has bought into our concept. We are very pleased that they will be looking at expanding and developing the Jamaican tourism model as a prototype for the rest of the world,” said the Minister.

Zurab Pololikashvili was elected by consensus at the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly being held in Chengdu, China, following the recommendation of the 105th UNWTO Executive Council. He is the current Ambassador of Georgia to Spain, Morocco, Algeria and Andorra and will serve as Secretary General for the period 2018-2021.

Minister Bartlett is currently in Madrid, Spain with his junior advisor Gis’elle Jones. They are scheduled to return to the island on January 17, 2018.