As Minister with Responsibility for Women’s Affairs, I am particularly pleased that the theme chosen by the United Nations for World Tourism Day this year “Tourism opens doors for women” – recognizes the important contribution of women in the tourism sector.
Women have played an integral role in the tourism industry throughout its long and distinguished history and have undoubtedly added to the rich quality of the tourism product and the maintenance of high standards in the sector. The product continues to grow in diversity, with opportunities to offer service in sub sectors including Accommodation (hotels, guest houses), Attractions (eco-tourism, historical sites) Adventure Tourism (golf, tennis, cruise lines), Food and Beverage, Transportation, Events and Conferences, and Tourism Services (information booths, reservations), among others. But whatever the facet of the tourism product, the essence is service with warmth and efficiency, which women as natural caregivers are ideally suitable for delivering.
In Jamaica, thousands of our women are employed directly or indirectly in the hospitality industry in occupations ranging from cook, waitress, housekeeper, tour guide, craft vendor, auditor, manager, travel agent, and until recently, even at the highest level of national administration, as Minister of Tourism. The contribution of these women must be acknowledged particularly as tourism is one of our major earners of foreign exchange which is the lifeblood of an economy such as ours, being dependent as it is on imports of a wide range of goods. The work of these women who help to make our hospitality industry the world class product it is, therefore contributes significantly to our country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and its overall economic development.
The theme “Tourism opens doors for women” highlights the fact that tourism is an area which indeed provides personal and professional growth, employment, and income-generating opportunities for women. By these means women ensure and enhance their economic contribution to their households and communities thereby assisting in the push towards the eradication of poverty.
I offer my sincere congratulations to all women in the tourism industry, whether in the forefront or participating without fanfare behind the scenes. I urge you to continue to make use of the available training and employment opportunities and to expand your horizons as you make your input towards a richer, more diverse and genuinely sustainable tourism product in Jamaica.
May you have a productive and rewarding World Tourism Day 2007.

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