Global tourism conference to highlight sustainability, investment, linkages
The hosting of the inaugural United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Global Conference on Tourism Development and Sustainability in Jamaica this November, takes place at a time when tourism around the globe is outperforming growth recorded in the financial and business services, manufacturing, public services, retail and distribution, as well as transport sectors.
"The conference will address the imbalance in the global funding of tourism activities and development," Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett stated.
"And given the powerhouse impact that tourism is having on the world economy, there is a disproportionate flow of funding and financing, and this is happening although 80 per cent of tourism is driven by small and medium countries."
He pointed to statistics from the World Travel and Tourism Council, which indicate that the sector generated US$7.6 trillion, approximately 10.2 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP); and 292 million jobs in 2016, equivalent to one in 10 jobs in the global economy. And, travel and tourism accounted for 6.6 per cent of total global exports and almost 30 per cent of total global service exports.
In addition, locally, the travel and tourism industry generated $4.5 billion to GDP last year. This represents 30 per cent of Jamaica's GDP, which is larger than the impact of every other sector on the Jamaican economy; and twice the size of the contribution made by the Jamaican banking industry.
The tourism minister noted that it was the first time in the history of the UNWTO that the private and public sectors will be working together, in collaboration with multilateral financial institutions, to stage an event of this nature.
The World Bank Group and donor countries, through their specific investment agencies, will participate in panel discussions that will explore various areas of sustainability, and how projects and financing can be generated for small and medium players in the global tourism sector.
"This event is also of historical importance, because it signals the first time that the UNWTO will stage a world conference on tourism in the Caribbean or Americas," Bartlett said.
The planning, creative and communication entities of the Jamaica National Group, a Jamaican mutually owned global business, will provide management and execution services for mounting of the conference.
The conference will be held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James from November 27 to 29, and it is projected that close to 1,000 delegates from 157 countries will attend.