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    • Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says tourism-dependent countries like Jamaica need a systematic approach, incorporating the relevant stakeholders and requisite resources, to counter existing and potential threats to the industry.
    • Among these threats, he noted, are issues related to climate change, epidemics and pandemics, and terrorism, in particular cyberattacks.
    • “Building resilience will require a strengthening of collaborations at the national and regional levels among tourism policymakers, lawmakers, tourism enterprises, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), tourism workers, education and training institutions and general populations,” he said.

    Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says tourism-dependent countries like Jamaica need a systematic approach, incorporating the relevant stakeholders and requisite resources, to counter existing and potential threats to the industry.

    Among these threats, he noted, are issues related to climate change, epidemics and pandemics, and terrorism, in particular cyberattacks.

    “Building resilience will require a strengthening of collaborations at the national and regional levels among tourism policymakers, lawmakers, tourism enterprises, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), tourism workers, education and training institutions and general populations,” he said.

    He noted that such partnership will “reinforce institutional capacity to anticipate, coordinate, monitor, and evaluate actions and programmes to lower the risk factors”.

    Underpinning this, he added, is the need for the necessary resources to be allocated for research, training, innovation, surveillance, information sharing, simulation, and other capacity-building initiatives.

    Minister Bartlett was speaking during Monday’s (November 25) opening session for the two-day Regional Policy Tourism Crisis Management Meeting Dialogue, being jointly hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Tourism Ministry, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

    Mr. Bartlett said the urgency in building the resilience of global tourism destinations is based on the intensification of traditional threats, such as natural disasters precipitated by climate change and global warming.

    Coupled with these, he added, are new and dynamic threats such as epidemics/pandemics, terrorism and cybercrime.

    He noted that with data indicating that 13 of the 25 most tourism-dependent countries globally are located in the Caribbean and that the livelihood of one in every four Caribbean resident is linked to tourism, measures must be put in place to reduce the region’s vulnerability to such risks.

    Further, he said that while travel and tourism contributes 15.2 per cent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) and over 25 per cent of the GDP of more than half of the countries, “in the case of the British Virgin Islands, tourism contributes 98.5 per cent of GDP”.

    “These figures clearly demonstrate the enormous economic contribution of the sector to the Caribbean and its people. They also underscore the importance of developing strategies for mitigating potential hazards that can destabilise tourism services in the region and cause long-term setback to sustainable growth and development.

    “It is [therefore] clear that if tourism is to maximise its ability to contribute to sustainable development, building tourism resilience must be a main priority,” the Minister contended.

    Mr. Bartlett said it is against this background that the first ever Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre was established.

    He reiterated that the facility, which is sited at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), will assist with preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions and/or crises that impact tourism and threaten sector-dependent economies and livelihoods.

    Among the key deliverables are establishment of an academic chair for resilience and innovation, creation of a virtual observatory to better track approaching disruptions, and facilitating the research necessary to understand these disruptions and be able to invest in dealing with same.

    He said that the centre will be focused heavily on communications, in recognition that an important element in building resilience is being able to anticipate catastrophic events and communicate these to relevant stakeholders.

    More than 50 local and regional stakeholders are attending the two-day meeting, which is being held under the theme ‘Reinforcing Crisis Communication as a Critical Element of Caribbean Tourism Resilience and Disaster Risk Management’.