Tourism conference to examine hurricane resilience and impact of climate change

Observer staff reporter

Sunday, November 05, 2017

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Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett says the first day of the upcoming United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conference will also be dedicated to talks on the subject of climate change and its economic impact on Caribbean nations.

The UNWTO, Government of Jamaica, World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank Global Conference on Jobs will be hosting a conference themed 'Inclusive Growth: Partnership for Sustainable Tourism', scheduled to take place at the Montego Bay Convention Centre from November 27–29.

“This conference positioning, as it is, will speak to how do we make the industry more impactful on the economies of the Caribbean. So for us the conference has taken a greater meaning for the Caribbean as a result of the recent climatic events,” the tourism minister said.

“The whole issue of resilience has to be discussed; we have to look at climatic change in a very strong way and the future of the Caribbean. Where are we going? Is it true that we are going to be having more severe climatic events such as this sort or is this just an argument? Is there need for some sort of scientific investigation? The incidence of three mega hurricanes back to back, is that a phenomenon? Is that a one in a 50-year phenomenon, is it something that happens every 1000 years, or is it something that you expect to be happening all around?”

Pointing out that following the devastating passage of Hurricane Harvey in Houston investors decided not to rebuild, Bartlett expressed that if investors shy away from the Caribbean as a result of climatic events the economies stand to suffer.

“We need to be sure about that because investors want to be secured in terms of the future of their investments. We want our region to be also positioned in a way where investment is not shying away from it, but investment is coming to it. We are fully aware, for example, what has happened in Houston as a result of Harvey's activity. After Harvey, the investors decided 'we're not rebuilding'. We can't have that happening in the Caribbean. Because if that happens in the Caribbean then it's the economies of the Caribbean [that will suffer],” Bartlett remarked.

He was speaking at a press conference at the headquarters of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) attended by members of the chamber and western journalists on Tuesday.

Bartlett noted that the conference will provide a platform to announce to global tourism interests that only under 10 per cent of the Caribbean was devastated by the recent passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“We want a narrative to be created which makes the world understand a little more about the geography of the Caribbean. But, more so, we want an understanding that more than 90 per cent of the Caribbean was unscathed by any of those climatic events,” Bartlett noted.

The conference will bring together world leaders from the tourism industry along with governments, donors, international development and finance organisations to design and coordinate an international road map and foster collaborative relationships for inclusive economic and social development via tourism.

It will also identify successful models and future initiatives of public-private partnerships (PPPs) that will contribute to sustainable tourism development globally.




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