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Minister McNeill – Position Tourism as a Powerful Force for Change

Release Date: 
Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - 08:45

Kingston, Jamaica: September 14, 2015 – Minister of Tourism and Entertainment and Chairman of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Executive Council, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill, has called on international tourism officials to ensure that while enjoying the success of national and global tourism they do enough to position the sector as a powerful force for change.

“Ultimately, the advancements of the sector, the arrival figures and the foreign exchange earnings will be meaningless unless tourism’s success is uplifting our communities, generating jobs and business opportunities and creating better lives for our people,” said Minister McNeill.

He was addressing delegates from UNWTO Member States, the private sector and academia at the Official Opening Ceremony for the 21st Session of the UNWTO General Assembly in Medellín, Colombia, yesterday (September 13).  Some 800 delegates are attending the event which will focus on “Tourism’s ability to foster inclusive development and social transformation”. It is being held from September 12 to 17, 2015.

Minister McNeill’s call comes against the background of five consecutive years of robust growth in international tourism as well as record global tourism figures which saw 1133 million international tourist arrivals in 2014 and earnings of US$1245 billion worldwide.

Noting that the debate about sustainable tourism must be translated into action, the Tourism Minister called on the international gathering to “ensure the implementation of policies and programmes that translate into measurable and meaningful benefits for all the citizens of the countries we represent. This must be the objective that is in the forefront of our minds as we carry out our discussions and make our decisions.”

Held every two years, the General Assembly is UNWTO’s main statutory meeting and the most important international gathering of senior tourism officials and high-level representatives of the private sector.

Minister McNeill, who is accompanied by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Jennifer Griffith, will return to the island on Tuesday, September 15, 2015.