Top tourism officials to visit Jamaica for high-level UNWTO meeting

Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, and Minister of Tourism for Saudi Arabia, His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, are among the global tourism officials who will visit Jamaica this week to attend the blended staging of the UNWTO’s 66th Regional Commission of the Americas (CAM) on June 24. The trip will mark Mr. Pololikashvili’s first visit to the English-speaking Caribbean. 

Additionally, the Caribbean will also be strongly represented as the Minister of Tourism and International Transport for Barbados, Senator, the Hon. Lisa Cummins, will also travel to Jamaica to attend the CAM meeting to be chaired by Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett. The tourism officials will also participate in the Ministerial Dialogue on the reactivation of the tourism sector for inclusive growth. 

Minister Bartlett indicates that investment will be high on the agenda when local officials meet with the Saudi Minister. He says Mr. Al Khateeb will be arriving with a delegation of eleven, including an investor who will hold talks with Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator, the Hon. Aubyn Hill, around a number of matters including renewable energy. 

Noting the importance of Mr. Al Khateeb’s visit, Minister Bartlett said it will be the first by a Saudi Arabian Minister of Tourism and that he is seen as the leading minister holding that portfolio in the Arabian region. He also oversees the Red Sea project, said to be the largest tourism venture to be undertaken anywhere in the world. 

Mr. Bartlett revealed that the Red Sea project involves building out a number of islands to create a whole new US$40-billion tourism experience that will rival the much talked about Dubai development and is expected to transform Saudi Arabia’s oil-based economy into one driven by tourism. Minister Bartlett said this was of significance to Jamaica as it underscored the central value of tourism as a transformational tool in economic development. 

The Saudi tourism minister will be visiting the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC) at the University of the West Indies, where he will participate in a bi-lateral meeting on tourism cooperation. “We will have a series of discussions relating to fostering collaboration between tourism in Jamaica and tourism in Saudi Arabia,” Minister Bartlett disclosed. 

Also, on their agenda is exploring areas of community tourism and cruise development, as well as sustainability and resilience “and the building out of a very tangible facility, we hope, in the region to enable a broader appreciation of sustainable tourism, as well as the importance of resilience in building the capacity to recover from disruptions that will ultimately happen,” said Mr. Bartlett. 

While here, the tourism officials and their delegations will tour the Bob Marley Museum, the GTRCMC and Craighton Estate. Minister Bartlett will also host a welcome dinner for the special guests at the Devon House, while Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness will extend the same courtesy at AC Marriott Hotel. 

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Linda Hohnholz