Wed | Jan 16, 2019

UWI to house centre for tracking tourism disruptions

Published:Friday | June 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/ Gleaner Writer
Edmund Bartlett

Jamaica's tourism sector and, by extension, the worldwide tourism industry, is to benefit from the setting up of a global centre for tourism resilience and crisis management centre, says Tourism Minister Edmond Bartlett.

The purpose of the centre will be to allow for the tracking of disruptions caused by earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis and to provide timely information to the various countries for them to implement full recovery mechanisms, Bartlett said.

"I am pleased to tell you that tomorrow, I will be at the University of the West Indies, Mona, to look at the space that has been provided for housing this beautiful tourism resilience centre," the tourism minister said at the start of a three-day organisational development transformation conference at The Pegasus hotel on Tuesday.

Tomorrow, Bartlett travels to Jordan, where he will meet with the former secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation and finalise arrangements with the former UN General Secretary, Ban Ki Moon, who is being tapped for one of the administrative roles at the tourism resilience centre.


The launch


The centre is expected to be operational in September, with an official launch in January 2019 at Caribbean Marketplace, which is scheduled to be held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. The initial build-out phase will cost approximately US$3 million, which Bartlett is confident about raising from his trips, based on the overwhelming support that he has received from other countries.

"While the tourism sector has traditionally been very resilient, the sector is also one of the most vulnerable to disruptions caused by natural means, and there was no one organisation to address these concerns until now," Bartlett said, citing Jamaica's last tsunami scare in January as an example.

He told The Gleaner that the absence of such an entity undermined the ability of global destinations to maximise their full tourism potential.

"This is very significant for the global tourism sector because for the first time anywhere, a country will be in a position to have a body of information and best practices that can be made available to the global community," noted Bartlett.

The project is endorsed by the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, along with several overseas universities.