Kenyan President confirmed as Tourism Resilience Center Honorary Co-Chair
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President of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, has accepted Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett’s invitation to be Honorary Co-Chair (representing Africa) of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Center (GTRCM).
President Kenyatta joins the esteemed ranks of Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, former President of Malta, as GTRCM honorary co-chairs.
The announcement was made yesterday, at a press briefing hosted at the offices of the Jamaica Tourist Board, New Kingston, by Kenya’s Minister of Tourism and Wildlife, the Hon. Najib Balala.
Kenya’s Tourism Minister was in Jamaica as a member of a Kenyan delegation, headed by President Kenyatta, on a three-day State visit.
The announcement follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Governments of the two countries on Monday to broaden cooperation in tourism. Among the many areas listed in the framework for cooperation are the promotion of safe, ethical and sustainable tourism; collaboration on addressing risk related to tourism resilience and crisis management, through research and development, policy advocacy and communication management, and training and capacity building; and the establishment of a satellite centre of the GTRCM in Kenya.
“We are excited that a new frontier beckons us and that is the African frontier,” said Minister Bartlett. Noting Jamaica has focussed largely on the United States and Europe for its visitors, he said Africa offered great opportunity as a source market. “Africa is the new development centre of the world; it is where the new middle class is and the capacity to travel is there. The desire to come to Jamaica is very strong,” he said. Africa is home to 1.2 billion people while Kenya is the third fastest growing economy on the continent.
“We see an urgent call for greater interaction and connectivity between the people of Kenya and Jamaica that can be fulfilled through tourism and this memorandum of understanding will go a far way in enhancing the opportunity for interaction,” Minister Bartlett continued.
Endorsing the GTRCM, Minister Balala said, “We are here today to support your vision and ideals of establishing a Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre. We in Kenya are committed to support this.”
He said Kenya pledged to work with Jamaica, the University of the West Indies and the University of Nairobi to create strategies to counter crises when they happen. Noting that crises can take place anytime and anywhere, he said, “We have the capacity now from lessons learned before on how to counter them.”
In his contribution, Executive Director of the GTRCM, Professor Lloyd Waller, stressed the importance of south-south cooperation as the key to development and noted that the Centre will play an important role where that is concerned. “There are not enough initiatives for south-south cooperation. A lot of the international development partners are in the developed world and it is important for us to identify a local south organization that will facilitate development. I think that the Centre can play that particular role.”
The GTRCM is dedicated to assisting with preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions and crises that impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods.