Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, on Thursday (February 17) launched Global Tourism Resilience Day during EXPO2020 Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The Day, which is the brainchild of Mr. Bartlett, will be observed annually on February 17.
The observance forms part of the thrust to heighten global tourism stakeholder awareness and actions towards strengthening the industry’s capacity to address and recover quickly from crises and shocks, such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and fortifying its resilience and sustainability.
The launch, which was addressed virtually by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, took place at the DP World Pavilion and formed part of the itinerary for Jamaica’s delegation, headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, which is participating in the global expo from February 16 to 20.
Mr. Holness said that the global tourism industry’s emergence from the fallout caused by COVID-19 is a “critical determinant” of the overall pace of economic recovery worldwide, particularly among the most tourism-dependent regions, including the Caribbean.
He noted that while the magnitude of COVID-19 is unprecedented, “there will, no doubt, be other significant challenges that the industry will face, including those posed by climate change”.
“This necessitates a posture that understands the various threats to the industry and the need for a proactive approach to enhancing readiness and capacity to meet the challenges of the present and the future,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Holness cited several important lessons emerging from the pandemic, among them the need for greater and more active commitment to behavioural changes among all stakeholders to reduce environmental, social, and human health risks.
He said it is anticipated that more tourists “will opt for sustainable destinations in the post-COVID era”, and destinations failing to reorient themselves towards meeting the demands “are likely to be left behind”.
“The increased demand for a more sustainable brand of tourism, presents an opportunity to prioritise the responsible use of natural resources, the preservation of the assets of the host countries and the strengthening of local involvement and participation in the tourism value chain,” the Prime Minister said.
He noted that the task of resilience-building is especially urgent for regions and subregions with a high degree of tourism dependence, and committed support to “any engagement, initiative or project that seeks to bring intellectual, scientific, innovative, and entrepreneurial minds and energies together for the purpose of sharing and exchanging more resources to solve common problems facing the industry”.
In this regard, Mr. Holness said the convening of a conference at the expo focusing on tourism resilience “is, perhaps, now more fitting than at any other point in the history of the tourism industry”.
He noted that the conference, which took place following the GlobalTourism Resilience Dayclaunch on Thursday, is an “important initiative” and praised the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre for conceptualising and coordinating the event.
“I’m confident that policy, ideas, strategies, frameworks, and models of tourism resilience building will be identified to aid current efforts towards recovery [and] chart our positive future for the industry, and the millions of global citizens whose lives and livelihoods depend on tourism,” Mr. Holness said.
Mr. Bartlett, for his part, noted that many countries have experienced various types of disruptions from which they have not recovered.
“We want focus on capacity-building, primarily for small highly tourism-dependent nations that are vulnerable to many disruptions but are weakly resourced to respond effectively to it,” he said.
He urged industry stakeholders to leverage Global Tourism Resilience Day “to make that statement that the world will now have a chance to predict, mitigate, manage, recover, and recover quickly and then thrive after disruptions”.