PRESS RELEASE: Tourism Minister the Hon. Ed Bartlett says one of the major outcomes of the recently concluded historic three-day UNWTO tourism conference on, “Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism, was the Montego Bay Declaration. He has described this ground-breaking document as “the blueprint for global tourism sustainability issues that will inform the next set of global millennial goals.”
Building on the legacy of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017, which had the objective of setting a common action plan towards 2030, the UNWTO Global Conference outlined a 15-point plan of action in its Montego Bay Declaration.
Speaking at a Press Conference on December 12 at the Ministry of Tourism offices in Kingston, attended by key conference partners, World Bank Country Manager for Jamaica, Galina Sotirova and General Manager, Country Department – Caribbean Group, Therese Turner-Jones, Minister Bartlett highlighted three principal points in the Declaration which are pertinent to the development of Jamaica’s tourism sector.
The minister outlined; the Multi-Destination Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Dominican Republic, recommendations for the establishment of a Global Tourism Resilience Centre in the Caribbean, as well as the need for multilaterals to channel development financing to Small and Medium-Sized Tourism Enterprises (SMTEs). These enterprises drive 80 percent of global tourism and are important to the development of Jamaica’s second biggest employer and foreign exchange earner.
“The Multi-Destination Memorandum of Understanding signed between Jamaica and the Dominican Republic during the conference will help to finalise our efforts towards regional tourism integration,” Minister Bartlett noted. The approach has already been agreed by the Cuban Government, with Mexico due to sign in January 2018.
“This will bring together four of the biggest tourism players in the region”, stated the Tourism Minister, “working together to foster and harmonize legislation on air connectivity, visa facilitation, product development, promotion and human capital.”
Ms Sotirova expressed appreciation for the opportunity to partner with the government. “The mission of the World Bank is to eradicate poverty”, she noted, “and tourism is one of the key sectors which can help to address this issue. We look forward to continued discussion and cooperation and to working with the government on a concrete action plan”.
Mrs Turner-Jones noted the importance of tourism to the Caribbean region. “We have to think more about pooling resources to market the region, and the IDB will continue to support efforts to create more value-added sustainability”.
Another key recommendation outlined in the Montego Bay Declaration recommends that Governments, the private sector, donors and international and regional organisations support the establishment of a Global Tourism Resilience Centre in the Caribbean. This will include a Sustainable Tourism Observatory, which will assist preparedness, management and recovery of crises which impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods.
Minister Bartlett also noted that only one percent of the world’s financial resources are available to the tourism industry, where small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), are the key economic drivers. He said these smaller firms have difficulty accessing credit.
Dr. Taleb Rifai, former Secretary-General of the UNWTO, indicated that this trend cannot continue if the travel industry is to become more inclusive and responsible. He said a shift in mindset is needed.
Minister Bartlett called for governments and other relevant stakeholders to create an enabling environment for the private sector and provide incentives for businesses, placing the Sustainable Development Goals at the centre of their tourism policies, strategies, initiatives, projects and research.”
Other results from the conference include access to new markets through the Airbnb database of more than 200 million guests and the signing of agreements, including MOUs, with the Travel Foundation, which will help to train craft vendors and the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute, to certify graduates from the Jamaican Centre for Tourism and Innovation.
The Minister also told journalists that the conference brought together the highest level of public and private partnership in the world and attracted a high quality and caliber of attendees including the President of the Dominican Republic His Excellency Danilo Medina. the Prime Minister of St. Lucia, the Hon. Allan Chastanet, Jamaica’s Prime Minister the Hon Andrew Holness, Secretary Generals and major multilateral entities.
The Montego Bay Declaration on, “Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism,” was announced by Minister Bartlett and Carlos Vogeler, UNWTO Executive Director, at the final session of the UNWTO Global Conference.
The UNWTO, Government of Jamaica, World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism, held at the Montego bay Convention Centre from November 27-29, was one of the largest conferences ever held by the UNWTO, with 1497 registered delegates. The conference brought together the highest level of public and private partnerships in the world, with heads of Government, Secretary Generals, major multi-lateral entities, private sector associations, academia and media.
The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (IYSTD), aims to raise awareness globally, about the contribution of sustainable tourism to development; and encourages the UN system; as well as other stakeholders to support sustainable tourism, at all levels, while mobilising stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change.