By Dana Niland
World leaders, legislators and academics from around the world convened in Montego Bay, Jamaica last week to commemorate the opening of The Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Center.
The GTRCM is a first-of-its-kind tourism resource dedicated to policy-relevant research and analysis on destination preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions or crises that impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods globally.
“It is my great joy to inaugurate the first-ever Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre,” said Jamaica Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, who unveiled the GTRCM at the Montego Bay Convention Center, where the 2019 Caribbean Travel Marketplace and Second Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth were taking place. “Last year, more than 1.4 billion overnight visitors travelled internationally. And, here in the Caribbean, we received more than 30 million travelers in 2018.”
“But with more tourist arrivals, we must also be proactive by creating the capacity to deal with global challenges facing our world today, particularly those related to safety and security,” Bartlett said. “The Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Center will focus heavily on the critical elements that will make Jamaica and the Caribbean among the safest destinations in the world.”
The Center will be led by Jamaica and its neighboring Caribbean nations, though it will draw expertise from around the world, focusing on four core areas of challenge: climate change and disaster management, security and cybersecurity, entrepreneurial management and data analytics and pandemic and epidemic management.
“Of all the major industries globally, none face greater exposure to disruptions as the tourism industry, but it also proven again and again that it has the greatest capacity for recovery,” Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness said. “I am very pleased that Jamaica is leading this initiative and that, in the spirit of true collaboration and partnership, tourism in all nations will benefit from the strategic solutions emerging from the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Center.”
The initiative will be based out of the University of the West Indies, Monda Campus, and has already established itself among domestic and international policymakers and practitioners at all levels of government, private and non-profit sectors and academia.
Dr Taleb Rifai, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, will serve as the Center’s co-chairman.
Among other responsibilities, he will oversee a coalition of academic partners including: Queensland University in Australia; The Hong Kong Polytechnic University; Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom; Northeastern University and George Washington University in the United States; in addition to the University of the West Indies, and the International University of Japan.
“The Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Center that is being unveiled today is about travel and tourism,” Rifai said. “But first and foremost, The Center is really about people, and keeping them safe. We believe that Jamaica, our friends in the Caribbean, and the rest of the world will benefit from the research, best practices and benchmarks that will emerge from this important effort.”