Mon | Dec 18, 2017

Rifai unhappy with media for portrayal of 'plantation-model exclusive resorts' comment

Published:Thursday | November 30, 2017 | 12:00 AMJanet Silvera
Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Taleb Rifai (left) and Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett at a press conference yesterday at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Admitting that his statement "plantation-model exclusive resorts" may have been too dramatic, Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Taleb Rifai said that he was disappointed in the way his suggestions were portrayed by the media.

"I was a little bit disappointed this morning to see some of the coverage in the news about some of what I said yesterday (Tuesday)," said Rifai.

"Not disappointed about what the media was covering, because I am sure there might have been good intentions in this, but in saying, 'Stop promoting modern plantations, called exclusive resorts', and 'The UN secretary general is blasting all-inclusive resorts'."

Rifai was addressing the media at an impromptu press briefing at the UNWTO Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St James, yesterday, called to deal with the backlash resulting from statements he made on day two of the event.

The tourism official was speaking on the topic of jobs and growth, however, when the articles were carried yesterday morning, he expressed disappointment in the angles from which some were written.

 

GREAT, GREAT RESPECT

 

"Let me clarify this once and for all, I have great, great respect for all-inclusive resorts, all the industries and all the good people who came and invested and changed lives and changed destinies and developed areas in this country and many, many parts around the world, not just this country," Rifai argued.

Of note is the fact that no time in his presentation did he mention "all-inclusives", and none of the stories carried by this newspaper stated so.

"What I was suggesting yesterday (Tuesday) was that this was a way for the future, a direction that businesses must take, and I must say that many of them came to me after I did my speech and said, 'Yes. That is the way we want to go', and we have to give them credit for that. We don't want it to look like it is us against them. That is not at all what I mean," he explained.

According to the UWTO secretary general, he wants to make it very very clear, "in front of everybody. What I meant was to show the direction for the future. That is my job".

He added: "These people (hotel investors) have given so much - their energy, their capital, their assets - to the country, and there is no way we could be in a camp that is attacking them or criticising them for something they have not meant to do in any way that is resembling whatever was written."

Rifai's comment, which was recorded by this newspaper, was that tourism stakeholders should stop promoting modern-day plantations called exclusive resorts.

He did not single out any particular chain, and he did not use the term all-inclusive, however, he chose to withdraw comments he never made.

The three-day global tourism conference concluded yesterday.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com