As Jamaica puts the finishing touches to a broad-based plan to host the world’s first global conference on jobs and inclusive growth, minister of tourism Edmund Bartlett has announced that over 300 participants from 60 countries have registered to attend the event.
He made the announcement at a press conference at the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce & Industry to update western Jamaica on the progress the UNWTO, government of Jamaica, World Bank Group, and Inter-American Development Bank global conference.
“This global conference will position Jamaica as a destination that has the capacity to do big events and to do them well,” said Bartlett.
With exactly four weeks to the opening of the three-day conference, the tourism minister is satisfied that all the elements have come together as scheduled and are now being fine-tuned for “the most ambitious project that we have undertaken as a ministry of tourism ever.”
With the islands of the Caribbean being some of the most tourism dependent in the world, the conference has been positioned to speak to making the industry more impactful on the economies of the region.
Bartlett said consideration must be given to making these countries stronger as a result of tourism and move away from being among the most indebted in the world with an average debt to GDP ratio that is close to 100 per cent.
Bartlett posited: “This conference is going to redefine Destination Jamaica as the centre where the world can come on an annual basis to cerebrate on matters relating to the development of tourism, but more importantly, to help to build out a strategy for job creation and inclusive growth.”
Among a list of high profiled speakers confirmed for the conference are president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina; Prime minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness; vice president for countries, Inter-American Development Bank, Alexandre Rosa; Secretary general of the Organisation of American States, Luis Almagro; chief executive of the Inter-American Investment Corporation, James Scriven; president of the World Travel & Tourism Council, Gloria Guevara Manzo; and UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai.
Also slated to play dominant roles in the conference are the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, Chemonics International, the George Washington University, and the University of the West Indies.
Technology will get special attention with a Smart Tourism Destinations exposition involving several major entities demonstrating how big data is transforming the future of tourism and creating a seamless visitor experiences.
There will be four plenary sessions looking at various aspects of tourism, such as the make-up of successful replicable collaboration models for growth and development; the direct contributions of tourism enterprises to the development of the destination; financing large, medium and small-scale tourism development; and donor-funded programmes.
The deliberations will form the basis of the Montego Bay Declaration from which will flow an action plan for tourism destinations to follow.
It will also inform the publication of the second volume of the UNWTO Global Report on Public Private Partnerships.
With memories of recent hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters, there will also be focus on climate change and recovery strategies.
Some special features of the conference will be the honouring of outgoing UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai and three outstanding leaders in tourism as well as an exposé of Jamaican gastronomic delights to a select group of invited international gastronomes.
The Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism, will be held on November 27th-29th at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.