Jamaica launches crisis management centre, writes Emily Eastman.
Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s minister of tourism, is pioneering a Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre in Kingston.
The initiative seeks to build capacity and share knowledge in a region which relies on tourism but is vulnerable to external shocks, ranging from extreme weather events to cybercrime, that threaten its economic stability.
A core goal is to better protect poorer countries that have weaker infrastructure and are therefore harder hit by such events.
The centre provides research, advocacy, training and policy development to safeguard and protect the tourism product of countries around the world.
“Tourism is the largest industry in the world. The latest figures show 10 per cent of global GDP comes from tourism,” Bartlett told ABTA Magazine. “We in the Caribbean are among the most tourism dependent on earth… but although tourism is resilient, it is usually vulnerable to shocks.
“Some of these shocks are weather events – when these disruptions hit highly tourism-dependent regions, their capacity to respond and recover is lessened. In some cases, even though tourism is the most resilient of all industries – it bounces back fast – the rate of recovery is still too slow. So, we have to build capacity to help these countries recover quickly.”
The centre has four key elements: an academic journal, a toolkit on how to improve resilience, a barometer for resilience that measures a country’s state of preparedness, and an academic chair who oversees progress. This year’s acting chair is Taleb Rifai, former secretary-general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization.
Bartlett is keen for global partners, including travel agents, to get involved in the campaign.