MESSAGE BY ALOUN ASSAMBA MINISTER OF TOURISM, ENTERTAINMENT & CULTURE AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE WORLD TOURISM ORG. JOINT INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR


Once upon a time, change was the bane of man. Everyone was content within his limited realm of faulty knowledge – simply because there was no one there to challenge his fallacy. This was the perfect world of zero competition – but I am sure you that agree this existence must have been dull, if it ever existed.
Change was so annoying because it shifted the focus from the known to unknown and it meant we had to “wheel and come again.”
Nowadays, the information age, facilitated by the accessible information superhighway, has availed an unprecedented suite of opportunities to improve as well as explore new things beyond the scope of what we know – and indeed; this makes our reality more interesting.
With these positive changes heralded by the information renaissance, developing economies have come to realize that clustering and a ‘common consciousness’ towards survival, is the best way forward. This approach is leading the drive for globalization, regional integration and a culture shared meaning.
This era has forced us to expand, and a valuable part of this growth process is training.
Therefore, events such as this regional joint World Tourism Organisation/ Caribbean Tourism Organisation Seminar on the Evaluation of Tourism Marketing, will exhibit to the participants that information sharing is one of the best ways of eliminating trial and error, especially since this can be so expensive.
As budgets and resources shrink compared to the tasks they must fund, re-thinking our advertising strategy to reach a global markets and get more bang for our buck is something of a catch 22. It is like wanting to have your cake and eat it, all because market visibility on one hand and cost minimization is almost inexorable.
However, in the face of changing times and new realities, many destinations are now reassessing their marketing strategies and the investment made to gain visibility in their target markets, and this event of clustering as a region to share information and best practices in destination marketing budgeting, is welcomed and should be highly resourceful for all involved.
Indeed, the texture of this event is not new to us in Jamaica, as it is along the course that Jamaica has taken in recent times to maximize productivity for the dollar spend. This was the context within which the Jamaica Cluster Competitive Project (JCCP) was launched in September 2002.
The JCCP was a two-year pilot project managed by the Jamaica Exporter’s Association (JEA). The project was funded by Department for International Development (DFID), USAID, the Government of Jamaica, the Jamaica Exporters Association and participating local private firms.
The approach has been working. Within two years the JCCP has successfully fostered a formal and high-trust Private/Public sector Dialogue in all three of its targeted sectors of Agribusiness, Tourism and Entertainment.
The Private/Public sector Dialogue fostered by the JCCP was the result of a highly structured cluster process that focused on strengthening the linkages between firms, government agencies, and the international market. In effect, the JCCP helped to fill the many “missing links” that existed throughout the economy.
It is my hope that the next three days will be as beneficial for the destination represented here.
There is no denying the value of tourism to Small Island developing states; we know that for a vast majority of these destinations, it is the goose that lays the golden egg, contributing a percentage of GDP than textile and manufacturing contribute to the economy of developed nations.
Travel & Tourism is the world’s largest industry and creator of jobs across national and regional economies.
Research show that in 2008, Travel & Tourism will generate, directly and indirectly, 11.7% of GDP and nearly 200 million jobs in the world-wide economy. These figures are forecasted to total 11.7% and 255 million respectively in 2010. Any sector that can supply 55 million jobs in 2 years is one that is growing exponentially.
Tourism as the agent of development and equity has been realized throughout the region, with most countries seeking to leverage the growth and delivery of their tourism product for the development of the country.
Travel & Tourism is able to contribute to development which is economically, ecologically and socially sustainable, because;
It has less impact on natural resources and the environment than most other industries
It is based on enjoyment and appreciation of local cultures, built heritages, and natural environments, as such that the industry has a direct and powerful motivation to protect these assets;
It can play a positive part in increasing consumer commitment to sustainable development principles through its unparalleled consumer distribution channels; and
It provides an economic incentive to conserve natural environments and habitats which might otherwise be allocated to more environmentally damaging land uses, thereby, helping to maintain bio-diversity.
This is why the Ministry of Tourism, Entertainment & Culture’s 10-year Master Plan for Sustainable Development in Tourism, now in its midterm of implementation has been centred on inclusiveness and community based development with a keen focus on spreading the wealth, knowledge.
All of this is good and dandy, but it cannot happen if we do not have money to spend. The Tourism Enhancement Fund as the financial enabler has made the development of tourism in Jamaica more of a balancing rather than a magic act. As a matter of fact, long before other international organisations found it en vogue to include the two single most important special interest groups, as it related to development, youth and women, they have been central to UNWTO agenda.
This focus supports development because these are central issues to the realization of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.
In fact, the JTB has been youth centric in their public education initiatives with the tourism action club and I am to be interviewed next week by a group of youngsters as part of the UNWTO/CTO World youth Congress.
This goes to show that youth are always in CTO programming.
This year – Sept 27 – World Tourism Day, the theme will be ‘Tourism opens doors for women,’ a time for the world to focus on the achievements and contributions of women in tourism as well as the opportunities for women in the sector.
Ladies and gentlemen, in closing let me thank the UNWTO and CTO for this technical assistance initiative that will help us as a region streamline our marketing initiatives and congratulate them on what I expect to shape up as a stellar partnership in Jamaica as we embark on this enriching experience.
One Love!

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