Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett (right), in discussion with former United States President, Bill Clinton, at a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Action Network meeting on Post-Disaster Recovery, in the United States Virgin Islands on June 3.
Mr. Bartlett, says the current trend of digitalisation means countries now have to be mindful of not only tangible threats, but also the growing invisible threats associated with electronic activities.
The minister, who is participating in a two-day meeting in the United States Virgin Islands on the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery, said this is even more important, considering that most tourism-related commerce now takes place electronically.
“From destination research to bookings to reservations to room service to payment for vacation shopping… these are mostly done electronically,” the minister said.
“Destination security is no longer simply a matter of protecting international tourists and local lives from physical danger, but now also means protecting people against cyber threats such as identity theft, hacking of personal accounts and fraudulent transactions,” he added.
Bartlett said the problem has grown to such alarming levels where “we have seen sophisticated cyber terrorists” causing system-wide disruptions to essential services in some major countries in recent times.
He said this is even more unfortunate, as most tourist destinations currently do not have any back-up plan to deal with cyber-attacks.
“As we seek to build our resilience against the main threats to global tourism, an important element of an effective resilience framework is being able to anticipate catastrophic events,” the minister argued.
“This shifts the focus from responding to disruptions to preventing them in the first place. Building resilience will require a system approach based on strengthening collaborations at the national, regional and international levels,” Bartlett said.
The minister said Jamaica has chosen to take the lead “in responding to the call to build tourism resilience in the Caribbean” by creating the region’s first resilience centre – the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre –which was recently established at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus.