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Much Interest in UNWTO Conference

Much Interest in UNWTO Conference
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett.
(Media CreditL Garwin Davis)

KINGSTON (JIS) -- Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says the worldwide perception of Jamaica being a tourism mecca is greatly assisting with the interest being shown in the upcoming United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conference. Mr. Bartlett, who returned to the island on April 29 following his visit to Africa and Asia where he had a number of important speaking engagements, told JIS News that the conference, to be held in November at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, will take Jamaica to heights “we have never seen before.” “Throughout my visits to Ethiopia, Dubai and Thailand, people want to talk about Usain Bolt, Bob Marley, Reggae and now the oldest living human being on earth, Violet Mosse-Brown,” he noted. “I know there are times when it is easy for us to take these things for granted, but worldwide it is a big deal. I have no doubt that our sporting and cultural exploits have been greatly assisting in fuelling interest in the conference, which I believe will be the biggest the region has ever seen,” the Minister added.

Mr. Bartlett, who also spoke at the two-day World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit 2017 in Bangkok on April 26, said the UNWTO conference will not only put the spotlight on Jamaica’s tourism but will also “give us the opportunity to present our message to an audience, the like of which we have never seen before.”

The Minister pointed out that he will also be using the platform of the conference to draw attention to the scant regard international donor agencies has paid to the tourism industry of countries worldwide.

“This is an important issue which I raised in Thailand last week and which I will further discussed at the UNWTO Conference,” he said.

“Despite the fact that tourism is an industry that contributes largely to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many countries, less than one per cent of funding from international donor agencies is provided to the tourism industry. Commercial and development banks also have difficulties in understanding the tourism sector enough to provide financing to small and medium tourism entities – especially in the creative industries,” the Minister added.

Mr. Bartlett was among the featured speakers at the meeting in Thailand. Former British Prime Minister, David Cameron; UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai; United States Travel Association President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Roger Dow; Air Asia CEO, Tony Fernandes; Travel Editor for CBS News, Peter Greenberg; President and CEO of Marriott International, Arne Sorenson; and President of Carnival Cruise Line, Christine Duffy were some of the other top speakers.