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Allow me to extend my appreciation to my colleagues and friends at the World Bank Group Ms Anabel Gonzalez and Mr Damien Shiels as well as my dear friend Professor Don Hawkins for affording me this opportunity to be a part of this critical discourse to mark the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development that explores delivering inclusion through tourism.
I am even more grateful for the opportunity to tell you about the flagship event of the International Year, the UNWTO, Government of Jamaica and World Bank Group Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnership for Sustainable Tourism being held in Montego Bay, Jamaica on November 27 – 29.
The Jobs and Inclusive Growth conference sets out to:
1. Explore the threats to sustainable tourism development and identify the opportunities for governments of tourism-dependent countries to effect policy to strengthen tourism’s absorbtive capacity;
2. The conference seeks to prepare our Small & Medium Tourism Enterprises to develop sustainable business models that will attract traditional and non-traditional funding, the barrier that restrains tourism communities from fully exploiting the benefits to be derived from tourism;
3. It will identify and expand community tourism templates to generate economic growth and decrease tourism leakage;
4. And critically, it seeks to establish a dynamic framework for public-private linkages across government, multilateral agencies and donor agencies to build out the infrastructure absorb tourism growth.
The fact is, if tourism accounts for more than 10% of global GDP and 30% of the world’s trade in services, surpassing the extractive industries including oil; and it provides one in eleven jobs worldwide; and 80% of global tourism is driven by Small & Medium Tourism Enterprises; then it should not be the case that 80% of tourism’s expenditure leaks out of the host countries.
When we discuss and measure foreign direct investments in tourism destinations, we usually refer to large scale hotel developments, airlines, airports and major attractions. However, tourism is the fastest way to transfer foreign exchange from wealthy countries to developing nations. Not through large-scale investments, but through backward and forward linkages in the tourism sector. According to the WTTC, spending by international tourists is classified as visitor exports and represented 5% of total global trade in 2013.
It is proven that tourism is an economic powerhouse that creates opportunities to improve the livelihoods of millions. Nevertheless, tourism is underrepresented in funding by bilateral and multilateral donors, representing less than ½ percent of gross development finance in 2015 – only USD 253 million.
In order to achieve sustainability in tourism, specifically, to increase jobs and realise inclusive growth, greater attention out to be paid to the tourism value chains through which we will find the real drivers of national development.
The questions that governments of tourism dependent destinations must ask are:
1. How do we keep more of that spend within the destination; and
2. How do we equip our “little people” and set the stage for them to benefit from the increasing movement of visitors to our destinations? In more academic terms, how do we achieve inclusive growth?
ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
For the first time, all key stakeholders, beneficiaries and benefactors, academics, NGOs, cruise and land-based tourism interests, governments, agencies and the people at the centre of tourism will be brought together at this historic conference.
Against the background of our azure Caribbean Sea to the north and the verdant hills of Jamaica to the south, the Conference seeks to explore partnerships through sustainable tourism, emphasizing in particular that tourism is the creator of jobs, and can be the lifeguard of floundering economies.
This Conference will restore hope for the small and medium tourism enterprises, the “little man” who can earn from tourism. What makes this Conference so dynamic is that we have deliberately avoided the style of back-to-back presentations on products, policy and business plans. Instead, we have taken a more interactive approach.
Our first plenary session will have Ministers of Tourism and CEOs of tourism enterprises engaging in dialogue on the structure of successful and, more importantly, replicable collaboration models for growth and tourism development. This will be in areas such as infrastructure, development finance, large-scale asset management and service delivery.
In our second plenary session we will elicit the direct contributions of tourism enterprises to the development of host counties. This will provide a blueprint to new and emerging small and medium tourism enterprises (SMTES) and large companies that while they focus on their bottom line, they can also incorporate plans for the growth of the communities in which they operate, that will in turn contribute to their profit.
In our third plenary session, multilateral development banks and their clients will pair up to explore the instruments, approaches and requirements for financing large and small scale tourism development. The discussion following will engage the audience and experts on ways to modernize the models that currently exist to better suit needs in the tourism sectors
Finally, in the fourth plenary session we will look at donor funded programs which have balanced growth with environmental sustainability and social inclusion.
THE DRAFT MONTEGO BAY DECLARATION
The Closing Ceremony of our Conference will welcome the compilation of the Draft Montego Bay Declaration, which will be completed by our hard-working scientific committee on the ground during the Conference. From this will flow an action plan for tourism destinations to follow, as well as the publication of the second volume of the UNWTO Global Report on Public Private Partnerships.
The blueprint of the Declaration comprises three major points:
1. To share proven international best practices for developing sustainable tourism partnerships;
2. To build an inventory of major international development and funding opportunities; and
3. To provide governments with improved tourism development investment road maps.
DELIVERING INCLUSION THROUGH TOURISM
Today’s Seminar forms an important piece of the puzzle of sustainable tourism for development, “Delivering Inclusion Through Tourism”. During our first plenary session we look at the shared economy and shared value chains; these cover direct opportunities for all people from farmers to manufacturers to service providers where the benefits of foreign exchange are transmitted instantly. We will look at how rural communities can get involved, as well as the role for women, acknowledging that tourism has a high proportion of women in employment, and fuels the economies of many developing nations.
Our second plenary looks at data, and how we can use data to inform policy decisions and law for the public sector, and how the private sector can analyse this data to create a better product offering, thereby providing the visitor with the exact experience that they want. There are many unique ways of capturing data nowadays. We can capture data through many trends that exist, from an individual’s Google Search to their credit card data. If countries are to achieve growth at all levels then accessible market research is key. Our slogan in Jamaica used to be, “Once you go, you know.” But today’s visitor knows before he or she goes. The support must be put in place, therefore to facilitate this sustainable, always on the cutting-edge growth.
Ladies and gentlemen, the fact is, we can no longer be concerned with overall economic growth, be it on a global, regional or even national scale. Growth does not matter if it is not reaching a wide cross-section of the population. I, therefore, join the WTTC in calling for global leadership in tourism. We must now find innovative ways to empower our people – awaken their creative and entrepreneurial skills. We must create a flexible yet stable policy and legislative environment within which our people will operate. Tourism can help to achieve that growth that we have been seeking for such a long time. Tourism is really very simple. It is all about experiences. All it takes is for one person to provide an experience, no matter how small; an experience that is unique to the destination that the visitor is willing to pay for.
I take this opportunity, on behalf of my partners, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and the World Bank Group, to invite you to Jamaica to participate in the foundation of the next step into the future of inclusive growth through sustainable tourism.