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KINGSTON, Jamaica; November 03, 2021: Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett today joined forces with tourism industry leaders from Kenya and Saudi Arabia to encourage other policymakers at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, UK, to make tourism part of the solution to climate change and COVID-19 pandemic recovery.
During his remarks, Bartlett noted that vaccines have become the big elephant in the room that is defining the global recovery levels. “Recovery from the pandemic is being affected by two critical elements – vaccine equity and vaccine hesitancy. Equity in relation to distribution so that all countries can recover together. The second is the use of technology to facilitate better communication and factual information about the vaccine and its application and efficacy so that more people are less hesitant,” said Bartlett.
“Unless we get to the point where more than 70 per cent of us are fully vaccinated, the recovery process is going to be painfully slow. We may very well find ourselves in another pandemic, worse than COVID-19,” he added.
Minister Bartlett, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Tourism & Wildlife, Hon. Najib Balala, and Minister of Tourism for Saudi Arabia, His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, shared their views on these issues during a panel discussion at the Conference, which was moderated by the Former President of Mexico, His Excellency Felipe Calderón.
During his remarks, Minister Al Khateeb stressed the importance of the tourism industry to the climate change recovery efforts. “The tourism industry, it goes without saying, wants to be a part of the solution to dangerous climate change. But, until now, being part of the solution has been far easier said than done. That’s because the tourism industry is deeply fragmented, complex and diverse. It cuts across so many other sectors,” he said.
Also on the panel were Rogier van den Berg, Global Director, World Resources Institute; Rose Mwebara, Director & Head of Climate Technology Center & Network at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Virginia Messina, SVP Advocacy, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC); Jeremy Oppenheim, Founder & Senior Partner, Systemic; and Nicolas Svenningen, Manager for Global Climate Action, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The twenty-sixth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the UNFCCC is being hosted by the United Kingdom in partnership with Italy. The summit has brought parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. More than 190 world leaders are participating, along with tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens for twelve days of talks.