Jamaica to join UNWTO’s global effort to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on tourism

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Senior officials at Jamaica’s Ministry of Tourism yesterday participated in a virtual meeting with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), to discuss a global coordinated partnership to mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus on the world travel and tourism sector.

The partnership will include UNWTO, governments around the world, global private sector organizations and other international organizations.

 Tourism Minister Hon. Edmund Bartlett pledged his support for this initiative which will mitigate the impact of the pandemic that has made tourism particularly vulnerable.

 During the discussions, Minister Bartlett noted that “For the Caribbean and other countries in the Americas, the stakes are much higher than for most other regions. The Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region in the world, one in every four Caribbean nationals is employed in the tourism sector while tourism supports 16 of 18 economies in the region.”

He added that “Despite the initial positive outlook for global and regional tourism in 2020, we can now reasonably anticipate negative repercussions from the unexpected fallout associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. These repercussions will likely extend into 2021.”

The Minister also provided the international body with an update on the response taken by the Government of Jamaica and the wider Caribbean. He shared that key issues so far include:

   Effective management of public health systems in our territories

Maintenance of tourism product quality during this period to ensure a strong recovery.

 Human capital and welfare concerns for employees

The meeting also included senior executives from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), World Health Organization (WHO), Chairs of UNWTO Regional Commissions in Africa, South Asia, Europe and the Middle East, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), European Commissions, International Maritime Organization (IMO), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), International Air Transport Association (IATA) as well as the Airports Council International (ACI).

“The crisis at hand also reaffirms the important role of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre. The Centre represents the primary institutional framework in the region for assessing, forecasting, mitigating and managing risks to the tourism sector,” said Minister Bartlett.

To respond to the COVID-19 threat, the Centre recently appointed Dr. Elaine Williams as Coordinator of Pandemics at the Centre. Dr. Williams, who is a well-known pathologist, will be working with key stakeholders in health to build clinical resilience in the industry.

“We are also actively engaging all our stakeholders and partners, including travel agencies, cruise lines, hoteliers, booking agencies, marketing agencies, airlines etc. WTO, CTO, CHTA, etc. – and we will be announcing more measures shortly,” he said.

The UNWTO is the leading international organization 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.

The UNTWO’s membership includes 159 countries, 6 Associate Members and over 500 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.