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KINGSTON, Jamaica; May 28, 2021: Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett has stepped up his lobby for players in the global community to make their voices heard about the issue of vaccine equity and its implications for global economic recovery, as well as the full restoration of the tourism industry.
The Minister renewed his appeal during the just concluded Global Tourism Recovery Summit, chaired by the Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The summit focused on efforts by the global community to restart the tourism industry with leadership and coordination.
During the summit, Bartlett, who was supported by his colleague, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator, the Hon. Aubyn Hill, said that the unequal distribution of vaccines may lead to a global humanitarian challenge, that will have direct implications for smaller states such as Jamaica.
“We are concerned that a greater humanitarian challenge will emerge if this process of vaccine inequity continues. Too many countries will find their economies in tatters and the livelihood of their people in peril. Jamaica is at risk because we have a low vaccination level of less than 10% and that is of concern. If categorization is to be made in relation to levels of vaccination, countries like Jamaica will be left behind due to our limited access to vaccines,” said Minister Bartlett.
During his presentation to several of the top ministers of tourism across the Middle East and other sections of the world, he emphasized that a few countries had cornered the global supply of vaccines. He shared that as of May 26, 2021 “a total of 1.7 billion doses of vaccine were administered across the world, but it only represented 5.1% of the globe.”
“The issue that faces the global tourism family is whether or not we will accept the positioning of bigger countries with more resources, who are more highly vaccinated as being the ones who will be able to participate in the global recovery, as the way that this recovery programme will be configured,” said the Minister.
He called on participants at the summit to deepen their resolve and strengthen their sense of understanding of what tourism recovery means.
“Tourism recovery cannot mean recovery for certain countries in Europe and North America and not for the Philippines, the Maldives, the Caribbean, countries in the Indian ocean and Africa for example… We are concerned because like Bob Marley said, there can be absolutely no equity and justice unless we all are together in this struggle. His words resonate because he made the point very well that what will happen to recovery will be a fleeting illusion to be pursued but never attained,” said Bartlett.
Bartlett and Hill are currently in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to attend the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Tourism Recovery Summit as well as the 47th Meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for the Middle East, scheduled for May 26 and 27, respectively. Bartlett is also using the visit to continue discussions with Saudi officials on tourism cooperation and investment. Minister Bartlett left the island on May 17 and is slated to return on May 30, 2021.