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  • Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the interests of small and medium tourism enterprises (SMTEs) must be safeguarded to ensure the industry’s sustainability.
  • He contended that achieving this requires SMTEs being fully leveraged to build sustainable economies in tourism-dependent nations.
  • “Nowhere do we understand this more than here in Jamaica, as a member of the most tourism-dependent region in the world. Here, in the Caribbean, one in five workers is directly or indirectly employed by the sector, while more than 40 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) is directly related to tourism activities,” the Minister further noted.

Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the interests of small and medium tourism enterprises (SMTEs) must be safeguarded to ensure the industry’s sustainability.

He contended that achieving this requires SMTEs being fully leveraged to build sustainable economies in tourism-dependent nations.

“Nowhere do we understand this more than here in Jamaica, as a member of the most tourism-dependent region in the world. Here, in the Caribbean, one in five workers is directly or indirectly employed by the sector, while more than 40 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) is directly related to tourism activities,” the Minister further noted.

He was speaking at the second United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Small and Medium Tourism Enterprises, at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Rose Hall, St. James, on January 29.

Mr. Bartlett said SMTEs’ economic survival is increasingly critical against the background of tourism being identified by the United Nations (UN) as key in spurring increased economic benefits to Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries by 2030.

This, he added, within the context of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Mr. Bartlett noted tourism’s far-reaching positive impact on other industries, citing that “it is one of the fastest growing and most resilient sectors in the world”.

He indicated that the industry accounts for an estimated 10.4 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP), one in 10 of 313 million jobs worldwide, and seven per cent of international trade in goods and services, “thereby contributing to economic growth and development in many societies”.

He described the six per cent growth in international tourist arrivals in 2018, totalling 1.4 billion persons, according to the UNWTO, as “excellent news”.

“This remarkable growth is two years ahead of the UNWTO’s long-term forecast issued in 2010, which indicated the 1.4 billion mark would be reached in 2020. It is also clearly above the 3.7 per cent growth registered in the global economy,” the Minister added.

Mr. Bartlett said tourism’s growth underscores the industry’s invaluable worth as a powerful driver of economic growth and development.

He added that against this background, “we must now manage it in a sustainable way”, to ensure that communities, countries and citizens around the world benefit through jobs and wealth creation.

“Tourism is valuable for development with linkages that run deep into the local economy and multiply the growth impact from trade. It is, therefore, incumbent on us to build a smart and sustainable framework to better integrate SMTEs into the tourism value chain,” the Minister emphasised.

Mr. Bartlett said it is against this background that “we have put in motion a plan to create a window through which small and medium players in the sector could access affordable loans to invest and play their part in supporting the build-out of the sector”.

“We wanted to widen the net of people benefitting from the industry in terms of ownership and employment. In this way, we are creating and realising sustainable growth,” the Minister added.