By Dana Niland
Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has unveiled the new Global Center for Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management, a first-of-its-kind resource based in the Caribbean at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus in Jamaica.
The Center’s mission is to carry out policy-relevant research and analysis on destination preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions or crises that impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods globally.
“In today’s world, tourism has become an important, if not vital, contributor to peace-building, the sharing of cultures, and creating opportunities for mutual understanding,” Bartlett said. “To guard Jamaica and our partners throughout the Caribbean from extreme weather events, natural disasters and political turmoil, The Global Center for Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management will ensure that we can continue to benefit from the economic, social, cultural, and historic value that tourism has to offer.”
It is expected to be operational in September, with an official launch scheduled for January 2019, during the Caribbean Travel Marketplace, which will be held at the Montego Bay Convention Center.
A 2017 report issued by the World Travel and Tourism Council reported that, while tourism remains strong globally, travelers are increasingly concerned about safety in the face of unrest and terror conflicts, public health crises, climate change and natural disasters, and cybercrime and cyber-security.
By convening domestic and international policymakers and practitioners at all levels of government, the private and non-profit sectors, and academia, the Center will develop innovative, research-based strategies to address and confront current and future threats.
The Center will also include a Sustainable Tourism Observatory, which will assist with preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions.
Like the European Union Tourism Observatory, the Jamaica Center’s observatory will support policymakers and businesses develop better strategies to support a more competitive global tourism sector.
“Our goal is to build the capacity to anticipate what will happen by tracking disruptions to withstand them, managing the process when they arrive, and recovering not just in real time, but in Nano time, so as to ensure the stability of our region,” Bartlett said.
The Center has already taken proactive steps to strengthen disaster preparedness in Jamaica.
Six satellite phones were procured for destination managers from the resort locations of Negril, Montego Bay, Kingston, Ocho Rios, Falmouth, Portland and St. Thomas.
The devices are designed to help improve communications between the Ministry and its agencies, the tourism emergency operations center, National Emergency Operations Center, resort areas, and wider tourism partners and stakeholders.
Bartlett appointed Dr. Lloyd Waller, the Head of the Department of Government at UWI, to oversee the establishment of The Center in a consulting role.
Dr. Waller, holds a PhD in Sociology and Social Policy from the University of Waikato, New Zealand, with a specialization in Information and Communication for Development and Advanced Research Methods.
The Center will be governed by a Board of Directors and an Advisory Committee, comprised of corporate thought leaders, academics and policy experts.
It will also establish a corporate membership program to provide a means for companies with interests in these areas to support the work of The Center and participate in its research, advocacy and resilience programs.
The Center was first announced during the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism, held in Montego Bay during the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.