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Beckles wants region's COVID-19 successes highlighted

BY HORACE HINES
Staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, September 14, 2020

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Vice Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles has expressed disappointment at what he sees as the international media's failure to highlight the success of regional countries in the containment of the novel coronavirus.

“The Caribbean has been in the top echelon of that containment success, but we have not seen, in the global media, the use of the Caribbean as a model [or] the use of the Caribbean as one of the successes in this journey,” Beckles argued last week at the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre's (GTRCMC) third virtual Edmund Bartlett Lecture Series.

This year the lecture series was hosted under the theme, 'Geopolitics and the Coronavirus: Implications for Global Travel and Tourism'.

Beckles, who commended Bartlett on his handling of the impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry in Jamaica, also called for a global tourism summit to support the recovery process.

“My suggestion is that this is the time to go beyond bilateral. We have to move towards a multilateral engagement. We need a global tourism summit based on the foundation that only multilateralism can lay the foundation for effective recovery of this sector, where heads of governments are prepared to sit to discuss geopolitics and the fact that there will be no economic growth without the growth of the tourism sector.

“We can do this on a hemispheric basis, even as we build the blocks for that global summit, where a policy dialogue can take place around the fundamental issues,” added Beckles.

The GTRCMC, based at The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, is tasked with creating, producing and generating toolkits, guidelines and policies to handle the recovery process following a disaster. The centre will also assist with preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions and/or crises that impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods worldwide.

For his part, Bartlett, the GTRCMC chairman, noted that beyond the negative economic impact, the novel coronavirus pandemic has also presented a range of political, geographical and cultural implications across the globe.

“Noticeably, the ongoing pandemic has reinforced the power of the State in its traditional role as protector of society, as governments globally have been at the forefront of coordinating responses, surveillance and monitoring, and organising economic relief efforts within and across borders,” Bartlett noted.

“Appropriately described as the great equaliser, the pandemic has spared no one, as we have seen some of the more traditional global powers being stretched to their limits while, ironically, some of the smaller countries have been able to manage the spread of the pandemic with greater efficiency,” added Bartlett.

He stressed that due to the pandemic, policy-makers have been faced with very difficult decisions.

“It has been virtually impossible for many global leaders to escape the ambivalent political impact of their policy responses to the pandemic. This is because key policy decisions have become increasingly subjected to multiple competing interests, which must be delicately balanced against each other,” he stressed.

The live streamed event, which was available to more than 3,000 people around the world, brought together local and international stakeholders, sharing best practices and case studies in tourism pandemic and economic resilience management, to develop long-term policy and strategic solutions.