Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett says that the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre has been tasked with developing a tourism crisis communications strategy which will help Caribbean nations ‘build back better’ following a disaster.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a Tourism Crisis Communications and Disaster Risk Management event yesterday at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, the Minister said, “In responding to the call to build tourism resilience in the Caribbean, I am very proud that the region’s first resilience centre was recently established at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus Jamaica.
“The Centre is going to focus heavily on crisis communication and will develop an official Tourism Crisis Communication Strategy. We believe that we have established ourselves to provide part of the institutional framework and the physical capacity that the region needs to implement and to have actualised some of the outcomes which we seek to have from our efforts,” he added.
The facility, which is the first of its kind, will assist with preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions and/or crises that impact tourism and threaten sector-dependent economies and livelihoods.
It is focused on deliverables including the establishment of an academic journal on resilience and global disruptions, the drafting of a blueprint for resilience, the creation of a resilience barometer and establishment of an Academic Chair for resilience and innovation. This is in keeping with the Centre’s mandate to create, produce and generate toolkits, guidelines and policies to guide the recovery process following a disaster.
“Building resilience will require a system-approach based on strengthening collaborations at the national, regional and international levels among tourism policymakers, lawmakers, tourism enterprises, NGOs, tourism workers, education and training institutions and general populations to reinforce institutional capacity to anticipate, coordinate, monitor and evaluate actions and programmes to lower risk factors,” said the Minister.
While the Centre has been created to assist all tourism nations across the globe, the Minister shared that the Caribbean is particularly vulnerable because it is the most tourism dependent region in the world.
“The most recent economic data indicate that the livelihood of one in every four Caribbean residents is linked to tourism. While travel and tourism contributes to 15.2 % of the region’s GDP in general and over 25% of the GDP of more than half of the countries. In the case of the British Virgin Islands, tourism contributes to 98.5% of GDP.
These figures underscore the importance of developing strategies for mitigating potential hazards that can destabilize tourism services in the region and cause long-term setback to sustainable growth and development,” he said.
During his presentation, the Minister announced that the Centre’s physical space is about 90% completed but is globally linked.
“Next week we go to Kenya to launch at the Kenyatta University, the first satellite centre for the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre and then we will head to Kathmandu in Nepal on the first of January to launch the second one. There are also a number of others, which will be launched in 2020,” he said.
The two-day event is being hosted by the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with the IDB’s Environment, Rural Development and Disaster Risk Management (RND) Division and their Caribbean Country Department.
Over 50 local and regional experts in the field of tourism crisis management and communications and disaster risk management have participated in the event, which is taking place under the theme “Reinforcing Crisis Communication as a Critical Element of Caribbean Tourism Resilience and Disaster Risk Management.”
The event also forms part of part of the IDB’s series of consultations with authorities known as Regional Public Dialogue.
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