JAMAICA has been elected chair of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Executive Council for the year 2014-2015.
The election took place during the UNWTO's 20th Session of the General Assembly, which was held from August 24 to 29 in Victoria Falls, at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe , at which Jamaica was re-elected vice-chair of the council for 2013-2014.
The country is being represented by Minister of Tourism and Entertainment Dr Wykeham McNeill and will assume its position as chairman in October 2014 to preside over several important meetings, including the next UNWTO General Assembly .
It is the first time that an English-speaking Caribbean country will hold the position of chair. Jamaica, The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago are the only three English-speaking Caribbean states that are members of the UNWTO.
Minister McNeill and Permanent Secretary Jennifer Griffith represented Jamaica at the recent meeting.
"This is yet another proud moment for Jamaica and represents a monumental achievement given the fact that we are a small island state," McNeill said.
"This further concretises our position as a leader in tourism on the international stage and speaks volumes of the far-reaching impact Jamaica continues to have on the other nations of the world," he added.
Meanwhile, the other countries rounding off the chairmanship of the UNWTO Executive Council for 2013-2014 are Indonesia - which was successful in its bid for Chairmanship — and Mozambique as second vice chair.
The UNWTO EC deliberates on policies and strategies that affect tourism world-wide before making recommendations to the General Assembly for action. As a member of the EC, Jamaica represents the interests of the Americas region.
The recent assembly was the largest ever of the UNWTO with more than 700 delegates representing 121 countries. There were 47 ministers with responsibility for tourism as well as over 200 journalists from across the globe.
It was co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe and the leaders of both countries, Michael Sata and Robert Mugabe, respectively, attended both the opening and closing ceremonies. The event also saw Taleb Rifai being re-elected for a second term as UNWTO secretary general from 2014-2017.