April 23, 2021

Jamaica, World Bank to host 1st Global Tourism Conference

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By Vinette K. Pryce From Caribbean Life

Tourism has become an economic powerhouse.

Tourism is the number one industry reportedly employing 10 percent of labor in the world.

Two hundred and ninety three million now work in the industry and by 2030 that figure is expected to grow to 350 million.

In many countries it is replacing other industries (petroleum) in Dubai.

One and a half million people spent $1.3 trillion last year in search of new experiences.

One in five workers in JA, work in tourism.

Those are some of the reasons Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s minister of tourism invited media to the island’s consulate for a briefing to announce the convening of 157 countries, 97 ministers from around the world, heads of states and tourism ambassadors to his island from Nov. 27 to Nov. 29.

For the first time ever, Jamaica will partner with the United Nations World Trade Organization (UNWTO) and the World Bank Group to host the “Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnership for Sustainable Tourism.”

Although Dubai and the Emirates lead the world as the number one tourist destination, Jamaica is the leading tourism destination in the Caribbean.

The United Nations issued a declaration proclaiming 2017 — the International Year of Sustainable Development.

Endorsed with commitments from Paul Pennicook, his country’s director of tourism, John Lynch, Chairman, Jamaica Tourist Board, Marcia Mclaughlin and Donnie Dawson, Deputy Directors, JTB, Matt Cooper, Chief Marketing Officer, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and Hugh Riley, Secretary General of Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) the top spokesperson for the region on the industry explained that 157 countries are expected to showcase tourism during the brief period.

“With the first conference of this magnitude in this hemisphere, the involvement of the CTO, representing the public sector, the CHTA, representing the private sector, it is an example of regional collaboration at its best,” Bartlett said.

“Tourism has experienced significant growth and has become one of the fastest growing socio-economic sectors in the world,” he added.

“In 2016 international tourist arrivals totaled 1.2 billion and are expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030.”

“Tourism accounts for more than 10 percent of global GDP, 30 percent of the world’s trade in services and one in 11 jobs worldwide,” he explained.

“In the Caribbean, it is estimated that tourism contributes more than $27 billion in foreign exchange to the regional economy.”

The minister reeled off a long list of data bolstering his argument to sustainable tourism growth.

“Tourism is the single largest generator of foreign exchange in 16 out of 28 countries in the Caribbean and also the sector receiving the most foreign direct investments.

As a region we must strive to grow our current market share.”

“It’s historic!” Riley said.

“Jamaica has always taken a leadership role…a thing like this has never happened before. But it is not surprising Jamaica has always been a champion for sustainabi­lity,” the CTO spokesperson said.

And with the long list of adulations to tourism Bartlett delivered some sobering statistics that seemed to surprise his audience.

He said although the industry reaps great rewards “my country does not benefit from its leakages.”

Despite the millions and billions of dollars spread thin he quoted figures of low retention for many of the countries experiencing high visitors and influx in tourism.

The Dominican Republic does best in the region for retaining half of its revenue.

However internationally, India bests all others by managing to retain 40 percent and Jamaica struggles to retain 30 percent while a whopping 70 percent of the revenue leaves the island.

“In order for us to stem the tourism leakage, we must develop absorptive capacity by building out the linkages in our communities to capture the tourism dollar,” Bartlett explained.

As chairman of a committee to focus on linkages, Bartlett offered several measures he would like to implement in order to build economies in the region.

Among his suggestions he proposed improvement of national planning capabilities.

He said investment and development frameworks must be strengthened and the legal environment requires improvement. In order to see results “the capacity of the tourism trade/local beneficiaries needs strengthening as does international collaboration and synergy.”

The most mind-boggling news he delivered was his revelation that “tourism is under-funded.”

“Under-represented in funding by bilateral and multilateral donors, tourism represents less than half of a percent of gross development finance in 2015 — only $253 million.”

To that end “our challenge at the conference is to respond to these critical prerequisites for tourism development by addressing the need for public and private investment / finance and how it can be expanded through innovative linkages.”

At the core of the conference, one of the objectives is to “expand community tourism templates to generate economic growth and decrease tourism leakage.”

A key target group of benefactors to that aim he said are the “little people” who operate “stush in the bush,” “fish fry” and small operations that enhance tourism.

“Eighty percent of tourism is driven by small entities, they are changing the matrix.”

“Those who work in these entities should know that when a plane lands or when a ship docks, it is bringing opportunity, jobs and prosperity to the region.”

“One barrel of oil brings five jobs.”

“Tourism is the best opportunity for poverty eradication.”

Although regarded as a leader in the industry, Bartlett explained that “tourism does not happen by chance” he said “it takes concept, tour operators, restaurants and policy makers.”

The conference is expected to attract multi-lateral financial agencies, NGOs, hoteliers, cruise specialists, universities and investors to decide the future of tourism in the Caribbean.

An 800-room hotel in the parish of Falmouth is under construction and will add to the 1100 rooms already earmarked to be filled during the three-day period slated for Montego Bay.

Aviation seems to be of no concern to the hosts.

Bartlett said airlines from Canada, the USA, the UK, South America and Africa all stop in Jamaica.

“Every legacy carrier flies into Jamaica,” Bartlett boasted.

Ethiopian Airways has committed to transporting passengers from the continent of Africa.

Forty countries have already registered for the ground-breaking conference which aims to create connectivity.

Music, fashion and fun are also slated into the itinerary.

Another feature of the conference will be the presentation of the Caribbean Legends Awards, the first of its kind, which will be a collaborative effort involving Jamaica, the CTO, the CHTA and supported by UNWTO.

These awards, in the categories of land, sea and air, will be given to individuals that have made an indelible mark on the tourism industry — not just regionally — but globally, enhancing the Caribbean brand.

As far as cuisine, Jamaica promises everything from halal to ital.

For more on this story go to: http://www.caribbeanlifenews.com/stories/2017/6/2016-06-16-vkp-inside-life-cl.html

IMAGE: Flag of Jamaica

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