Jamaica has welcomed the opening of the new Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre, a new UNWTO-backed body based at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies.
The mission of the centre is to carry out policy-relevant research and analysis on destination preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions that impact tourism and threaten economies.
It will also play a role in training officials to respond to crises as they evolve as well as developing communication capacities.
Jamaican minister of tourism Edmund Bartlett, the driving force behind the new centre, said: “The importance of this centre cannot be overemphasised in our hyper-connected society – a society in which tourism plays a vital role.
“This is a transformative tool to safeguard and protect the tourism product of countries around the world.”
Bartlett argued 10.4 per cent of global GDP is dedicated to tourism, accounting for one in ten jobs around the world.
In the Caribbean this figure rises to one in five jobs, with the region being the most dependant on tourism of any around the globe.
“With this dependence comes risks,” agued Bartlett, “and this centre is designed to mitigate this risk.”
The process of launching the centre has taken a little over a year, since it was initially mooted during World Travel Market in London in late 2017.
Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, the president of Malta, has given her full support of centre, with further discussions of her role as honorary president of the centre held in late 2018.
Board members of the centre include Mario Hardy, chief executive of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, Brett Tollman, chief executive of the Travel Corporation, and Earl Jarret, chief executive of the Jamaica National Group.
Jamaican prime minister Andrew Holness was in attendance to welcome the opening of the centre
They will be led by former United Nations World Tourism Organisation secretary general Taleb Rifai, who will co-chair the body.
Rifai said: “I do not give a dam about tourism – what I care about is the impact the sector has on people – and that is why this centre is so important.
“It will build the resilience of a nation and contribute to the wellbeing of the people.”
He added: “No place under the sun can be immune to crisis – but we can be prepared.”