A GLOBAL conference on tourism, jobs and inclusive growth is taking place from November 27-29, gathering 1500 participants and over 150 speakers in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
The conference is organised by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Government of Jamaica, the World Bank Group and the Inter-American Development Bank aims to set a new collaborative framework for tourism moving towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is an official event of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017.
Under the theme ‘Jobs and Inclusive Growth - Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism’ the event was opened by the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Michael Holness and included special addresses from President Danilo Medina of the Dominican Republic and Prime Minister Allen Chastanet of Saint Lucia.
The conference is aiming to set a global agenda of partnerships for tourism in view of the 2030 Agenda and advance the contribution of the sector to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 8 on economic growth and jobs and SDG 17 on partnerships for the goals.
Sessions are looking into partnership models in such areas as investment, infrastructure, international aid and development finance, human capital, social inclusiveness, climate change, resource efficiency, education and destination management.
“With growth comes power, and with power, comes responsibility,” UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifa said at the event opening. “With 1.8 billion travellers forecasted for 2030, this growth can and should, when well-managed, translate into opportunities for inclusive economic growth, for more and better jobs, decent jobs, to distribute wealth and share prosperity, to better know and respect each other and protect our natural and cultural heritage.”
Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Michael Holness said, “We must pivot our tourism growth strategies in line with the key areas that the United Nation’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development promotes: inclusive and sustainable growth; social inclusiveness, employment and poverty reduction; resource efficiency, environmental protection and climate change; cultural values, diversity and heritage; mutual understanding, peace and security.”
Jamaican Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, recalled that more than 40 percent of the GDP in the Caribbean relies on tourism and that “sustainability in tourism is to our own survival”. He stressed that “global tourism has been identified as one of the catalysts to promote sustainable development”.
The conference was preceded by a one day session on the future of tourism in the Caribbean with a strong message of “the Caribbean is open for business” following the recent hurricanes Irma and Maria. The current challenges and risk affecting Caribbean destinations, namely natural disasters, the need to build resilience and promote multi-destination travel were at the heart of discussions.
The event has been organised in collaboration with Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHTA), Chemonics International, a leading international development firm, the George Washington University and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).