Jamaica has been appointed to coordinate the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) recovery programme for Caribbean states that have been adversely impacted by recent hurricanes.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, said the UNWTO at its recent General Assembly held in China decided that Jamaica should take the lead in guiding the effort in getting the affected countries back to normality.
He was addressing a press briefing on Friday (October 6), at the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) offices in New Kingston.
The Tourism Minister informed that the meeting in China looked at measures to assist the Caribbean with natural disaster risk management and response initiatives.
Further discussions will be held at the UNWTO/Government of Jamaica and the World Bank Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth, slated for Montego Bay, St. James, from November 27 to 29.
The region’s restoration programme will take centre stage at the State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) scheduled for October 10 to 13 in Grenada.
Leading experts in disaster preparedness and mitigation, recovery, funding, airport development and maintenance, and other sectors will gather to strategise during a special segment, ‘Recover and Rebuild’.
Minister Bartlett noted that a number of agencies in the region are already working to minimise the long-term effect from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
They are the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), aided by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
Minister Bartlett informed that technical teams from CTO and CDEMA are active in the various islands doing rapid needs assessments and coordinating with national authorities for effective management of interventions, “to mitigate the pain and hardships that are pervasive at this time”.
Minister Bartlett pointed out that the SOTIC forum will focus on the economic cost of disasters, including the potential impact on gross domestic product (GDP), employment, cost of rebuilding and recovery. The report, he said, will have industry-wide, international significance.
The Minister urged persons in the tourism industry and government officials in the region and other countries, to help “set the course for recovery and growth for all of us over the next year, and shape the future of tourism in the Caribbean region”.