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Int'l interest in Jamaica's crisis management centre

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

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DEVELOPMENT of a Global Resilience and Crisis Management Centre in Jamaica to deal with climate-related issues has been attracting attention from international financial and academic interests, says Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.

He noted that his senior advisor, Dr Lloyd Waller, is in Cuba meeting with “particular persons who are interested in funding a significant element of the resilience centre” and that “big multinational companies have already committed [to it]”.

“So, we are on [track] in terms of the global financial institutions that are showing interest,” he said at a ceremony to hand over satellite phones to six destination assurance managers, at his ministry's New Kingston offices on June 4.

Bartlett noted that academic institutions on “every continent” are also showing interest in the centre.

They include Queensland University in Australia; Hong Kong Polytechnic in Hong Kong; Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom; and universities in the United States such as George Washington and Harvard.

“We know already that the tourism leadership — World Travel and Tourism Council, Pacific Area Tourism Authority, United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Caribbean Tourism Organization, and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourist Association — have all already committed and support this resilience institution,” he pointed out.

He informed, further, that talks are “going well” with Samsung to “power the information and communications technology for the centre”.

First announced during the UNWTO Global Conference on Sustainable Tourism in St James in November 2017, the centre, which is the first of its kind, will be tasked with creating, producing and generating toolkits, guidelines and policies to handle the recovery process following a disaster.

To be based at the Mona Campus of The University of the West Indies, the facility will include a sustainable tourism observatory which will assist with preparedness, management, and recovery from disruptions and/or crises that impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods.

Meanwhile the six satellite phones, procured at a cost of $3 million, were presented to destination managers from the resort locations of Negril, Montego Bay, Kingston, Ocho Rios, Falmouth, Portland, and St Thomas.

The devices form part of the ministry's disaster preparedness efforts and will improve the interface between the ministry and its agencies, the tourism emergency operations centres, National Emergency Operations Centre, resort areas, and wider tourism partners and stakeholders.

Since 2006 the ministry has been working in collaboration with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) to mainstream disaster risk management within the tourism sector through its Multi-hazard and Contingency Planning Programme.

Bartlett noted that communications represent a “central part of resilience building” and the provision of the phones will boost efforts in this regard.

Director general of ODPEM, Major Clive Davis, hailed the tourism ministry for taking proactive steps to strengthen disaster preparedness.

He noted that communication “is one of those critical points of failure [during a disaster] which could cause you much challenge in delivery of service”.

Major Davis pledged to continue to support the development of the ministry's disaster management programme, assuring that “we will be there for you as and when required”.

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