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Story Highlights

  • Jamaica’s election marks a historic first for the country which currently serves as first Vice-Chairman of the Executive Council (EC)
  • Jamaica was elected during the UNWTO’s 20th Session of the General Assembly
  • Jamaica will be the first English speaking Caribbean country to hold the position of Chairman

Jamaica, represented by Tourism and Entertainment Minister the Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, has been elected Chairman of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Executive Council, for the year 2014-2015.

Jamaica’s election marks a historic first for the country which currently serves as first Vice-Chairman of the Executive Council (EC) for 2013, after previously serving as second Vice-Chair.Jamaica will assume its position as Chairman in October 2014, and will preside over several important meetings including the next UNWTO General Assembly.

Jamaica was elected during the UNWTO’s 20th Session of the General Assembly which was held from August 24 to 29, 2013 in Victoria Falls, at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Jamaica is one of three English speaking Caribbean countries that are members of the UNWTO, with the others being the Bahamas and Trinidad & Tobago. Jamaica will be the first English speaking Caribbean country to hold the position of Chairman.

Minister McNeill and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, Mrs. Jennifer Griffith, represented Jamaica at the meeting. The Minister said, “this is yet another proud moment for Jamaica, and represents a monumental achievement given the fact that we are a small island state.” He added, “this further concretizes our position as a leader in tourism on the international stage and speaks volumes of the far reaching impact Jamaica continues to have on the other nations of the world.”

The island was also re-elected to serve as first Vice-Chairman of the EC for 2013-2014. The other countries rounding off the chairmanship of the UNWTO Executive Council for 2013-2014 are Indonesia – which was successful in its bid for Chairmanship and Mozambique as 2nd Vice-Chair.

The UNWTO EC deliberates on policies and strategies that affect tourism worldwide before making recommendations to the General Assembly for action. As a member of the EC, Jamaica represents the interests of the Americas region.

This was the largest ever General Assembly of the UNWTO with over 700 delegates representing 121 countries. There were 47 Ministers with responsibility for Tourism as well as over 200 journalists from across the globe. It was co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe and the leaders of both countries; President Michael Sata and President Robert Mugabe, respectively, attended both the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. The event also saw Taleb Rifai being re-elected for a second term as UNWTO Secretary-General from 2014-2017.

Minister McNeill returned to the island on Sunday, September 1, 2013.