June 9, 2023

Cruise shipping sector supports UNWTO Global Conference

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Cruise shipping interests in the island’s resort towns are confident that the upcoming United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Government of Jamaica and World Bank Group Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism will offer the opportunity to discuss critical issues relating to the sector.

And not only are they calling it the biggest and most important tourism conference to ever be held in the region, they also point to the significance of having cruise and land based entities “meeting in the same room in an up close and personal” forum.

“The cruise sector has never really been a part of the UNWTO, which makes our participation even more interesting,” explained Michael Belnavis, Chairman of the National Cruise Council (NCC).

“You can expect to see the presence and participation from cruise sector players from one end of the Northern Coast to the other. And let’s not forget that cruise shipping is a major boost for stopover arrivals. The cruise passenger that comes for that one-day visit will be the one coming back next month with his family to stay at a hotel. Treat them nice and they will be back.”

Belnavis further noted that in recent discussions with President of the all-powerful Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), Michelle Paige, cruise officials have been expressing full support for the opportunity to discuss “wide ranging issues” with their land-based counterparts.

“I can tell you that heads of the two largest cruise companies – Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line – have expressed their interest in participating, giving the conference more clout in terms of the high-profile powerbrokers we will be having in our midst,” he revealed.

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett has been courting the cruise sector heavily since appointing the NCC in 2016. The council, which reflects a partnership between private and public sector interests, has been mandated to guide and grow the local cruise economy in a steady and sustainable manner. In addition, on various occasions this year, Minister Bartlett and Prime Minister Andrew Holness have travelled to Florida to meet with US executives from the FCCA, as well as cruise ship operators, Carnival and Royal Caribbean.

“The sector continues to play a critical role in global travel and tourism so I am happy that cruise shipping will have a special seat at the upcoming UNWTO global conference in Jamaica. We could not have such an important conference in the region without having the cruise sector being represented,” said the Tourism Minister.
Senior Manager of the Royal Shop Chain of Duty Free Stores, with operations in both Falmouth and Montego Bay, Ravi Daswani, agreed.

“The mere presence of Royal Caribbean and Carnival is not only a big deal but changes the whole dynamics of the entire thing,” he explained. These are the two biggest cruise lines, and their influence in tourism circles across the world is something we are all aware of. This is truly a big deal,” Daswani explained

For his part, Garfield Dussard, owner of Garfield Diving, a watersport operator with cruise-related businesses in Ocho Rios, Falmouth and Montego Bay, said the opportunity to interact personally with cruise line officials is something he has always been yearning for.

“Not everybody can go to the expensive tradeshows overseas to get a personal one on one with these cruise line bigwigs,” he noted. “By hosting a conference of this size, we are bringing the best of the best to our shores and for this the organizers must be greatly commended.”

The UNWTO conference will be held from November 27-29 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James. More than 800 international and local participants will be engaged in plenary sessions and workshops on a wide range of subject matters pertinent to tourism. Tourism Ministers, Government Officials and representatives from the tourism sector worldwide are expected to attend.

The Ministry of Tourism is responsible for the management and promotion of Jamaica’s tourism product. The Ministry has adopted the “New Tourism” approach to its long-term vision, which will create a government entity that is more adaptable to the ever-changing environment facing world tourism. At the core of this concept is a coherent partnership between public and private sectors; and the Jamaican people, to ensure benefits for large and small industry stakeholders. The Ministry is leading the charge to strengthen the linkages between tourism and other sectors, such as: agriculture, manufacturing and entertainment. It will encourage Jamaicans to play their role in: improving our tourism product; and sustaining investment; as well as, modernizing and diversifying the sector, to foster growth and job creation for our fellow Jamaicans.

The story of The Jamaica National Group began in 1874 with the genesis of the pioneering organization that was later to become Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS). Committed to its code of “mutuality,” its mission is to improve the financial strength of its membership. Propelled by insightful leadership, mergers and acquisitions, The JN Group has evolved to meet the diverse and growing needs of Jamaicans locally and throughout the Diaspora.

Today, the JN Group serves with excellence. Each company operates in accordance with the regulations of its region and industry. All companies offer a variety of innovative, high value products and services and are numbered among the most successful in their respective sectors.

The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. As the leading international organisation in the field of tourism, UNWTO promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability; and offers leadership and support to the sector in advancing knowledge and tourism policies worldwide. UNWTO generates market knowledge, promotes competitive and sustainable tourism policies and instruments, fosters tourism education and training, and works to make tourism an effective tool for development through technical assistance projects in more than 100 countries around the world. UNWTO’s membership includes 157 countries; six Associate Members; and 500 Affiliate Members, representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.


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