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Chairman of the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), Audrey Marks, has said that much emphasis was being placed on the development of the resort areas, in a bid to have tourism become the driving industry for economic growth.
In her presentation to delegates at the 30th annual conference on the Caribbean Basin, held in Miami this week, Miss Marks said that care would be taken to ensure that the development was compatible with environmental management.
Speaking at the workshop on ‘Disaster Responsiveness and Business Continuity’, the Chairman also spoke of the massive expansion programme being undertaken to improve and increase facilities in the Kingston harbour, the world’s seventh largest natural harbour.
Considered a strategically placed regional port, it was also ranked as the 54th port in the world for business capacity, she said, and highlighted the inclusion of public and private sector collaboration and co-operation as part of a national disaster management strategy as well as the need for greater focus on planning for sustainable development by both sectors in development projects.
Citing the island’s devastation after Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and more recently in 2004 after Hurricane Ivan, Miss Marks said that the national damage was evident in a number of sectors, including agriculture and livestock and tourism as well as the impact on infrastructure, housing and personal property.
Additionally, other disasters in 2005 throughout the region, showed the important link between disaster planning and preparedness and economies, and how this related to business recovery as well as national recovery, she added.
While this is of global concern, “small islands like ours are constantly faced with the challenge of how to effectively balance economic development with environmental protection”, Miss Marks said.
In an effort to plan the effectiveness of the mitigation stage, she proposed several factors that would benefit governments and the business community.
She stressed that as a continuing strategy, the business community should be more aware of overall management as this was not solely the responsibility of government, and simultaneously, greater collaboration between national and regional disaster management agencies should be encouraged.
Regional forums like the conference, she suggested, could be an avenue to continue emphasizing the importance of sharing experiences and practices in disaster management with governments and business interests.
She also pointed to the enforcement of stricter national measures to ensure environmental protection, especially in areas where business entities were dependent on industries such as tourism, agriculture and natural resources.
In this regard, Miss Marks said that in Jamaica, governmental as well as non-governmental agencies, such as the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) and TPDCo were already playing an active role in the development of business continuity planning, for example, in the tourist industry.
The three-day conference was hosted by the Caribbean Central America Action (CCAA) Committee.