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KINGSTON, Jamaica; October 8, 2020: Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett has underscored the need for tourism interests around the world to embrace and leverage a new smart tourism model, to ensure the success of the industry in the post-COVID-19 era. This as Minister Bartlett continues to make his mark as a thought leader in the international tourism community, with his participation recently in another major international webinar – the SAHIC Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference.
Minister Bartlett said: “In the long-term, this crisis presents us with an opportunity to harness the potential of digitalization to drive new tourism experiences. In the absence of physical travelling experiences, millions of people in quarantine have been seeking out cultural and travel experiences from their homes.”
He added that, “rapid digitalization coupled with emerging technologies, such as virtual and augmented realities, can create new forms of cultural experiences, dissemination and new business models with market potential.”
Mr. Bartlett highlighted that the international community can expect to see the growth of smart tourism, with more destinations increasing the production of visitation data, such as tourists' time spent at attractions, which will aid in crowd management – which he believes is an essential factor in a post-COVID-19 world.
“Smart tourism can be helpful in promoting social distancing by focusing on controlling human traffic to major tourist sites like a museum, a cathedral or a public park, as we seek to maintain the quality of visitors' experiences,” said the Minister.
Bartlett also shared the strategies employed locally that have been impactful, such as the ‘Rediscover Jamaica’ campaign, as well as the health and safety protocols created by the Ministry of Tourism and its agencies working in collaboration with industry partners and other government stakeholders.
“The Re-discover Jamaica initiative has received tremendously positive reception from local residents, with some hotels reporting 50%-60% reservations from locals,” he explained.
“As we look to the future, the gap in seasonal downturns in international tourist arrivals and volatility in the global tourism market can be offset by sustaining these staycation packages that target local residents who have traditionally felt excluded from higher-priced all-inclusive vacation packages that are designed to attract international tourists,” the Minister added.
SAHIC is a two-day virtual event focusing on Latin America and the Caribbean, which featured 9 hours of networking opportunities with key players and strategic sessions with prominent members of the hotel investment community.
Other government speakers, included, Hon. Ivan Eskildsen, Minister of Tourism for Panama and Hon. Gustavo J. Segura, Minister of Tourism for Costa Rica, in regional discussions. Additional speakers included Gloria Guevara Manzo, President and CEO, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC); Brian King, President, Caribbean & Latin America, Marriott International and Rogerio Basso, Head of Tourism, IDB Invest.