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KINGSTON, Jamaica; June 24, 2021: Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett is calling on global and regional tourism stakeholders to redouble their efforts to facilitate the speedy recovery of the international tourism industry and by extension the global economy. Minister Bartlett made the call as he chaired the blended staging of the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) 66th Regional Commission of the Americas (CAM), today (June 24th).
Minister of Tourism for Saudi Arabia, His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb and Minister of Tourism and International Transport for Barbados, Senator, the Hon. Lisa Cummins, are among the global tourism leaders who have travelled to Jamaica to attend the CAM meeting. Senator Cummins also chairs the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). The tourism officials also participated in the Ministerial Dialogue on the reactivation of the tourism sector for inclusive growth.
Minister Bartlett highlighted that “international tourism receipts in 2020 declined by 64% in real terms, equivalent to a drop of over US$ 900 billion, while the total loss in export revenues from international tourism amount to nearly US$ 1.1 trillion.”
He added that “the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector in the Americas saw a 68% decrease in international tourist arrivals in 2020, recording 70 million down from the 219 million recorded in 2019.” He lamented that according to the UNWTO’s ninth report on travel restrictions, 10 destinations in the Americas, or 20% of all destinations in the region, had completely closed their borders as of February 1, 2021, with a downward trend in air traffic.
While hoping for more positive trends moving forward Mr. Bartlett stressed that “the call now, is to redouble our efforts to work together in practical and meaningful ways for a return to the successful days of travel and tourism.” He said “I hope that one outcome of this meeting, including the Ministerial Dialogue, will be not only a reiteration of our commitment and political will but at least one concrete step that the region can take together to reactivate tourism.”
Secretary-General of the UNWTO, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, in underscoring the need to expedite the recovery of the tourism sector said “we can’t leave anyone behind in this process… Time is crucial, many families especially in the Caribbean do not have another way out of this. It is the main source of income for them and many people and many kids and many families are depending on this income.”
Minister Al Khateeb underscored the need for greater collaboration in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is a global problem and the solution has to come from everybody and therefore we have to collaborate and we have to work together,” he expressed. He also called for clear and unified protocols to facilitate the rebound of the tourism sector.