Warm welcome to Global Tourism Conference

Monday, November 27, 2017

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That Jamaica is one of the world's leading tourist destinations is no longer in doubt, and this has been so long before the formal organisation of our tourism industry, with the establishment of marketing and promotional entities by the State and the private sector.

Indeed, historians tell of the era when Messrs Ian Fleming, Nol Coward and Errol Flynn owned properties on Jamaica's north and north-eastern coasts and the fact that this island served as a getaway for famous people, among them Hollywood legends Ms Audrey Hepburn, Ms Sophia Loren, Mr Peter O'Toole, English novelist Mr Graham Greene, and American novelist, actor and screenwriter Mr Truman Capote, just to name a few.

In fact, up to this day Jamaica welcomes its fair share of the world's rich and famous who relish the privacy they enjoy while here, as well as our cuisine, culture, warm weather, and the genuine hospitality extended to them by the Jamaican people.

We are therefore not surprised that some of the world's more prominent business leaders are now in the island for the Global Tourism Conference which opens today and will run until Wednesday in Montego Bay.

In total, approximately 1,300 delegates have registered for the event which is being staged by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Government of Jamaica, World Bank Group, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Among them are Spanish hotel mogul Mr Abel Matutes, owner and director general of the Palladium Hotel Group; Mr Frank Raineri, founder and president of the Punta Cana Group; Mr Hakuhiko Ishii, director of overseas market development for All Nippon Airways, Japan's largest airline; Silicon v alley business titan Mr Chris Lehane, head of global policy and communications at Airbnb; Mr Steven Paganelli, senior executive of the world's largest travel site, TripAdvisor; and cruise industry tycoons Messrs Arnold Donald of Carnival Corporation and Adam Goldstein of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited.

The tourism ministry has also told us that Mr Danilo Medina, president of the Dominican Republic; Mr Allen Chastanet, prime minister of St Lucia; Mr Taleb Rifai, secretary general, UNWTO; Mr Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States; Ms Cecile Fruman, global director, trade and competitiveness global practice, the World Bank Group; and Mr Alexandre Meira da Rosa, vice-president for countries, IDB Group are attending the conference.

'Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism' is its most timely theme, given that the United Nations General Assembly has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

In fact, this year's World Tourism Day was used to advocate and promote the potential of sustainable tourism as a tool for development which, we hold, is critical, given that tourism produces an estimated 10 per cent of global GDP and provides one in 10 jobs worldwide.

Against that background, it is important that the industry is properly managed, and that protocols are established to protect the cultural heritage and biodiversity of host communities, while at the same time ensure that economic benefits flow to all stakeholders.

It is our hope that this conference will result in a strengthening of those ideals. We also expect that Jamaica will be the perfect host and benefit immensely from this event.




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