Sun | Dec 17, 2017

All systems go for UNWTO conference, says Bartlett

Published:Sunday | November 26, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says all is in place for the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conference, which gets under way tomorrow at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St James.

"It's all systems go," Bartlett said.

"We have had a number of final meetings with the planning committees and everybody is on top of their game," he noted.

He revealed that 1,300 delegates had registered to attend the three-day event.

"Initially, we were looking for 800 delegates, and now we are up to 1,300, almost to the point where we can say we are oversubscribed," he said.

Bartlett said that "even as we prepare for this very important conference, our hearts go out to those who have been affected by the flooding".

"Fortunately, though, we have not had to alter our plans as the Rose Hall area and also the Sangster International Airport have not been affected," he said.

He indicated that he had been in discussions with the hoteliers, and they were all excited about the prospects ahead and the fact that Jamaica is hosting a conference of this magnitude.

"We have been saying for some time now that this will be the biggest tourism conference to ever be staged anywhere in the Americas, and we have not been exaggerating," he said.

"The kind of international publicity that we will be getting from the conference will give us that opportunity to capitalise even further, and to say that we are truly excited would be putting it mildly," he added.

Bartlett said that he was happy that for the first time, cruise shipping would be part of a UNWTO conference, with top executives from the two largest cruise lines in the world - Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines - slated to attend.

"This is a conference about sustainable tourism, and all our tourism partners, both land and sea, will be at the roundtable for important discussions," he pointed out.

"The Caribbean will be well represented from the standpoint where we are now one of the biggest tourism regions on Earth. For many of us, tourism is our lifeline ... our bread and butter, and that is why you will find discussions concerning multi-destination marketing taking on such huge significance at this conference," he said.

The conference is being jointly hosted by the UNWTO, the Government of Jamaica, the World Bank Group, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Stakeholder partners include the Caribbean Tourism Organization; the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association; private international development company Chemonics International; and George Washington University in the United States.