Job creation, inclusive growth high on UNWTO conference agenda

Saturday, November 18, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Job creation and inclusive growth are high on the agenda of the United Nations World Tourism Organization's (UNWTO) global conference, being held from November 27 to 29 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.

Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, told JIS News that this focus is of particular importance to countries like Jamaica which depend highly on the hospitality industry.

“We currently have 106,000 jobs directly from tourism and an indirect amount of nearly 300,000, which means one in five of the workers in Jamaica are (involved in) tourism directly or indirectly,” he noted.

The minister contended, however, that it is imperative that the formula for inclusive growth be further improved to “enable the development of human capital so that more of the creativity of the Jamaican people is reflected in the output of tourism and the development of the experiences that visitors pay for.”

Bartlett said the conference will also facilitate discussions on how tourism can be more impactful in the economies of countries that are recipients of visitors from across the world.

“The fact is tourism has become the fastest growing economic activity globally. It currently employs 293 million people and represents 10 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP). That indicates that one in 10 workers of the world is employed in tourism directly or indirectly,” the minister outlined.

He added that the sector generates US$7.6 trillion globally, pointing out that in 2016, some 1.2 billion people travelled to different parts of the world and spent US$1.3 trillion in pursuit of diverse experiences.

Bartlett further cited that some 79 countries currently have a tourism dependence ratio of 10 per cent and more, adding that of these, the top 13 globally are in the Caribbean.

“So a conference in the frame of how do we sustain economic growth, create jobs and have inclusion, is vital. We are bringing the universities together for ideas. We will (also) bring the policy makers, the UNWTO and all of those who can (formulate) policies that determine the framework within which these things can happen. Then we will bring the non-governmental organisations which are a key part of civil society and enabling community development and activity.

So it is the perfect mix and out of all of these discussions will come a framework that will help to guide the future development of tourism in the world,” he further stated

The conference is intended to foster a forum for governments, investors, donors and multinational organisations to exchange ideas on development and investment opportunities; share proven best practices for developing public-private partnerships (PPP) in tourism; and work with governments to prepare innovative tourism PPP investment opportunities that prioritise sustainability, economic inclusion and poverty alleviation.

Additionally, it will facilitate discussions on social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction strategies that have been successfully initiated by various entities.

The event, which will be attended by some 157 tourism ministers and Government officials from across the world, will see participants engaging in plenary sessions and workshops on a range of industry-relevant topics. These include development assistance and investment partnership opportunities.

The conference is being jointly hosted by the UNWTO, Government of Jamaica, World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank.

Stakeholder partners include the Caribbean Tourism Organization; Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association; private international development company, Chemonics International; and George Washington University in the United States.

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