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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica: June 9, 2015: In a bid to ensure that more Jamaicans benefit from the vibrant tourism sector Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Hon. Dr. Wykeham McNeill is urging tourism partners to be more proactive in fostering the sustainable development of the industry by practicing Responsible Tourism. The Minister made the call as he addressed the 54th annual general meeting of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa recently.
Citing that the industry continues to register growth despite various challenges he said “while arrival figures, investments and room numbers are important benchmarks of success in the tourism sector, all of us in this room, as stakeholders, investors and partners, must understand that we have a responsibility to ensure the sustainability of the sector.”
“If tourism only benefits those in this room it simply will not be sustainable. We must ensure that the sector impacts the wider economy in a more positive way and that it benefits more Jamaicans. It is crucial for us to embrace the concept of Responsible Tourism, which focuses on providing ‘better places for people to live, and better places for people to visit,” Minister McNeill added.
This, he explained, required that operators, hoteliers, government entities, local people and tourists take responsibility and action to minimize the negative economic, environmental and social impact of tourism.
At the just concluded 58th meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for the Americas in Haiti and 100th session of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in Croatia, it was stressed that if responsible tourism is to become a reality in today's world, it is essential that both the private sector and public institutions, adhere to the ethical principles of tourism; to ensure it is sustainable and accessible to all.
Locally, in seeking to attain the goal of “Tourism for All”, the ministry is pressing ahead with various programmes including the Tourism Linkages Initiative and the development of Community Tourism. Also, the Minister underscored that many tourism partners have been investing in the communities in which they operate.
Realizing that the viability of their property is intricately linked to the wellbeing of the surrounding communities, Dr. McNeill lauded hotels which through their various foundations and community projects continue to open doors of opportunity for many Jamaicans through mentorship, general education and specialized skills training.
“Many hotels are working closely with the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) to implement projects that protect and preserve the environment. I commend these properties which truly take corporate social responsibility seriously,” he said.