KINGSTON, Jamaica — In his first ever address at the United Nations General Assembly, Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, today urged global tourism leaders to take more decisive steps to ensure that people remain at the heart of tourism recovery globally
In the keynote address delivered to a high-level thematic debate on tourism at the UN, under the theme, “Putting sustainable and resilient tourism at the heart of an inclusive recovery” Bartlett said, “people must be considered and consulted.”
“People must be included and involved. People must be at the heart of the policies, programmes and practices, because people are and will always be the foundation and heartbeat of our societies, structures, systems and sector,” he argued.
The high-level roundtable presentations also the Minister of Tourism of Spain, Maria Reyes Maroto Illera; Chairman of the Committee of Tourism Development under the Government of Tajikistan, Tojiddin Jurazoda; Minister of Tourism for Honduras, Yadira Esther Gómez; and Minister of Environment and Tourism of Botswana, Philda N. Kereng.
Tourism recovery and resilience were central to Bartlett’s presentation, which highlighted that: “It is necessary to develop short, medium and long-term strategies to boost tourism’s resilience, and increase its sustainability during times of crisis and beyond.”
“The growth and stability of Small and Medium Tourism Enterprises (SMTEs) underpin the survival of the sector. In this regard, Jamaica continues to deliver critical assistance to SMTEs that constitute 80 percent of the tourism experiences delivered to our visitors,” the Minister added.
Bartlett also called for a full debate on resilience-building through funding for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), to facilitate the even recovery of the global tourism sector.
“The issue of supply chain disruptions, in terms of goods and services and human capital, have made the prospects of an equitable recovery challenging. We urge a full debate here at the UN and relevant agencies on the challenges to recovery, with a focus on resilience-building through funding for SIDS who are highly tourism dependent but weakly resourced,” he noted.
He said that, like other countries, Jamaica was hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the national economy declined by 10.2 per cent, and tourism ended the year with an estimated loss of a staggering US$2.3 billion. The phased re-opening of the tourism sector began in June 2020, and by the end of 2021, the island welcomed 1.6 million visitors and earned US$ 2.1 billion.
He also pointed out that with economy recovery led by the hospitality industry, some 80 per cent of the tourism workforce are already back at work.