Jamaica has improved its standing on the world tourism stage with its selection as first vice-chair of the executive council of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) for 2013.
The country has previously served as second vice-chair, but was elevated following a successful bid during an election at the 94th meeting of the UNWTO executive council held in Campeche, Mexico, October 24-25.
Romania won the chairmanship for 2013 while Mozambique is second vice-chair.
Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill will represent Jamaica on the prestigious decision-making committee that comprises some 32 nations. A total of 166 countries form the membership of the UNWTO.
"It is a proud moment for the nation, and a historic achievement especially bearing in mind that we are a small island," said McNeill during a telephone call from the World Travel Market in London last Thursday.
"It is a strong testimony of the far-reaching impact of Jamaica on the other nations of the world, which we expect to be further strengthened by our projected positive short- and long-term growth and performance."
The UNWTO council deliberates on policies and strategies that affect tourism worldwide before making recommendations to the General Assembly for action. As a member of the executive council, Jamaica represents the interests of the entire Americas region. The country will continue to serve as a member through 2013.
Jamaica plans to focus on travel facilitation and the review of visas and how they are issued, said McNeill.
"We recognise that you have to have border security but the new technologies allow (countries) to address it in a more efficient way," he noted.