Published on : Monday, January 16, 2017
The UNWTO is celebrating 2017 as the year of sustainable tourism. Jamaica will be hosting a major event on this programme – the International Conference on Sustainable Tourism. This event will take place between November 27 and 29 in Montego Bay. This year aims to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behavior towards a more sustainable tourism sector than can contribute effectively to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). To quote Taleb Rifai, the Secretary-General of the UNWTO, “This is a unique opportunity to build a more responsible and committed tourism sector that can capitalize its immense potential in terms of economic prosperity, social inclusion, peace and understanding, cultural and environmental preservation.”
Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s minister of tourism, who also chairs the Board of Affiliate Members of the UNWTO, believes that the conference will be a display of appreciation for the initiatives being taken by the Government to increase the performance of Jamaica’s tourism industry through sustainable methods. The UNWTO’s website has already listed the official announcement event for the conference (on 19th January) for Montego Bay in November, among its upcoming events. Bartlett said that the UNWTO will be hosting such a big tourism conference in the western hemisphere for the first time. On January 19 Bartlett will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Jamaica to host the conference.
To quote Bartlett, “That would be the first time that a world conference on tourism would be held in the Caribbean, and in the Americas as a matter of fact. We have had general assemblies, but never a world conference.” He said that starting this year, he is aiming to have Jamaica increase visitor arrivals to five million per year, moving earnings to US$5 billion per annum, by 2021. He has already added five new tourism sub-sectors to the country’s offerings, as the ministry strengthens its efforts to promote Jamaica as ideal tourist destination. These new linkage networks are sports and entertainment, shopping, knowledge, health and wellness and gastronomy. These networks are linked to five pillars of growth: tapping into new markets, developing new products, promoting investment, building new partnerships and human capital renewal. Bartlett said that Jamaica’s economy is largely dependable on tourism, and hence, much needs to be done to ensure growth.