UNWTO Head Hails Jamaica on First-Class Conference

Photo: Claudia Gardner Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, addresses a joint press conference at the closing of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) ‘Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism’ at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St. James, on November 29. . At left is Secretary-General of the UNWTO, Dr. Taleb Rifai.

Story Highlights

  • Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Dr. Taleb Rifai, has commended Jamaica on the staging of a first-class conference, which he likened to a “second General Assembly”.
  • “This meeting has been tremendously impressive. When the idea first started, I personally never thought it was ever going to be this big. I was very much attracted by the subject matter and its title and the subjects that were going to be discussed – the issues connected to the International Year for Sustainable Tourism,” Dr. Rifai said.
  • “The most important part about this meeting is that it is Caribbean by all means, and it galvanised the pride and the excitement about being Caribbean. It is bringing this region together and showing the world that we can do something big, and they did something big and they did something very impressive,” he said.

Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Dr. Taleb Rifai, has commended Jamaica on the staging of a first-class conference, which he likened to a “second General Assembly”.

The three-day meeting on ‘Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism’ was held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St. James, from November 27 to 29. It was jointly hosted by the UNWTO, Government of Jamaica, World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

“This meeting has been tremendously impressive. When the idea first started, I personally never thought it was ever going to be this big. I was very much attracted by the subject matter and its title and the subjects that were going to be discussed – the issues connected to the International Year for Sustainable Tourism,” Dr. Rifai said.

“I could feel immediately when I came here that this was my second General Assembly. This has been a very impressive meeting not just by the numbers but by the calibre of people and the organisation (and) by the smoothness of how this thing happened,” he added.

Dr. Rifai was speaking at a joint press conference with Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, on November 29.

The UNWTO head recommended the staging of follow-up sustainable tourism events in Jamaica or other countries of the Caribbean each year.

“The most important part about this meeting is that it is Caribbean by all means, and it galvanised the pride and the excitement about being Caribbean. It is bringing this region together and showing the world that we can do something big, and they did something big and they did something very impressive,” he said.

Dr. Rifai said he was “absolutely touched” by the good gestures and the wonderful environment. “This is the spirit of the Caribbean, and I enjoyed it tremendously. It was a wonderful event, and I hope that it will be repeated,” he added.

Minister Bartlett, for this part, said he is highly satisfied with the outcomes of the conference.

“I think we can fairly feel a sense of accomplishment that history was made here during this week in Montego Bay,” he pointed out.

He noted that more than 1,400 delegates from 60 countries were in attendance over the three days of the event, making it the biggest tourism conference in the history of the Caribbean.

He said the Government of Jamaica is satisfied that the partnerships that were forged had the input of the private sector, non-governmental organisations and universities, among other entities.

“The issues were very clear and were intelligently discussed by perhaps the most expert panels that we could have assembled anywhere at any time,” he noted.

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