MONTEGO BAY – Prime Minister the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, has underscored the importance of tourism to the economy of Jamaica, noting that the sector is one of the main planks of the government’s development agenda.
She said that Jamaica has cemented its place as a global leader in tourism, through its full membership in the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and by being a founding member of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and "will continue to play its part in the advancement and sustainable future of this important industry."
The Prime Minister was speaking at Saturday’s (June 16) closing banquet of the two-day Caribbean Tourism Summit and Outlook Seminar, which was held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
During the function, the Prime Minister was presented with a letter by a Secretary General of the UNWTO, Taleb Rifai, and Chief Executive Officer of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), David Scowsill, which outlines the importance of travel and tourism to the world economy, in terms of job creation and enhancing growth and development, and ask that governments add their voice to efforts to position tourism higher on the global agenda.
Over the last 14 months, Mr. Rifai and Mr. Scowsill have been travelling the world and presenting Heads of State and Governments with the written statement. To date the letter has been presented to 28 such Heads, with Mrs. Simpson-Miller becoming the 29th.
"It is our great honour, our great privilege, on the 50th anniversary of your Independence, to present to you, Hon. Prime Minister this letter, and for you to join the distinguished group of leaders that have received this letter from us," said Mr. Rifai.
Mrs. Simpson Miller, in accepting the letter, gave her commitment to ensure that everything this done at the local level for the success of the industry.
She said that having served as Minister of Tourism previously, and under whose watch Jamaica’s Tourism Master Plan was developed, she has more than a passing knowledge of the value of tourism as a driver of economic development.
She argued that the continued growth of the sector is critically dependent on policies that will ensure an environment that enhances investments in infrastructure, human resource development and activities that expand linkages to other sectors.
"For tourism to succeed, we need the commitment of Ministers of Tourism and the many players in the tourism sector. However, there are many other ministries and agencies within the structures of government that have responsibilities that impact the success of the sector," she noted.
Over the two days of the conference, top players in the global tourism industry met to examine issues facing regional tourism, including the regional aviation policy and its competitiveness.
The event was jointly organised by the CHTA, Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), in partnership with the UNWTO and WTTC.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter