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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica; Wednesday, November 29, 2017: Prime Minister Andrew Holness has given an unqualified commitment to the development of tourism in Jamaica.
Underscoring the importance of tourism to Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, Prime Minister Holness said, “We must pivot our tourism growth strategies in line with the key areas that the United Nations International Year for Sustainable Tourism promotes.”
He was delivering the keynote address at yesterday’s opening session of the UNWTO, Government of Jamaica, World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism, at the Montego Bay Convention Center.
Among the key areas highlighted by the Prime Minister were: Inclusive and sustainable growth, social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction, resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change, cultural values, diversity and heritage, mutual understanding, peace and security.
Prime Minister Holness suggested to the over 1400 delegates who had registered by day two of the three-day conference that tourism-dependent states should give critical consideration to how the industry’s product must adapt and evolve to reflect the new realities of today. Those considerations should include: climate change; evolving tourist preferences, in particular, how to treat with the new millennials; terrorism, travel and safety security concerns; as well as new and emerging markets, products and technology.
He underlined that respect was due to tourism “as an industry that has contributed so significantly to our economies” and, as a result of tourism, “we can teach our people to respect our environment and heritage as natural assets.”
Prime Minister Holness outlined several projects being undertaken to improve infrastructure, noting that when local lives were allowed to be better for the citizens they then create the product, the experience (and) the authenticity that brings the visitor.
“The Government of Jamaica continues to take concrete steps to expand our tourism product and to create more opportunities that will improve the livelihood of Jamaicans,” he told his international audience.
The Prime Minister further reinforced that tourism enabled local communities to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth and besides its direct contribution to jobs, “tourism’s multiplier effect on related sectors such as training, agriculture, manufacturing and construction further amplifies its employment impact.”
Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett who has been the main force behind the staging of the global conference in Jamaica, said the country was a model of sustainable tourism and reminded that the conference emerged out of a meeting to bring together stakeholders with the common goal of achieving good, sustainable jobs, inclusive growth and sustainable development. He said the world had come to recognize that these goals could be achieved through tourism.
Minister Bartlett pointed to the need for greater loan support to tourism, in particular to the small and medium-sized enterprises, which account for 80 percent of the industry.