imagine how sad Jamaicans felt in May this year when the United States’ State Department issued a bombshell warning to Americans, including US Government personnel, to resist visiting several areas of the island.
They were warned that “violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts”.
Even more disheartening was the suggestion that, “the local police often do not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents”.
It also claimed that families of US citizens killed in accidents or homicides frequently wait a year or more for final death certificates to be issued by Jamaican authorities and that “emergency services and hospital care vary throughout the island…”
But, even though a “do not travel” advisory, aimed at Jamaica and Colombia, was issued for several areas on the island, including downtown Kingston, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett said that, initially, he focused on a ministry response to the warnings from the State Department.
“In other words, I didn’t want the Americans to feel that we ignored their advice, but we want the focus of the ministry to be on growth, and to build a safer, more secured and seamless destination,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
“The result was that we still have good numbers and we are getting more. We have a 42 per cent repeat business and the month of October was the best October in the history of our tourism. To go anywhere near 200,000 visitors for the month is unprecedented,” he added.
The minister noted that there was a significant rise in seat capacity, which underlines the strength and appeal of Jamaica’s tourism industry. He underscored the million arrivals up to recently, Jamaica winning the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s destination resilience awards, and the island being on track for an 11 per cent growth this year.
Bartlett was being honoured by the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), in association with the Technology Innovation Centre and Mack & Mack Innovations, at the university’s Papine campus in St Andrew, for the publication of his newest book, Thought Leadership on Tourism, Resilience and Sustainability in the 21st Century.
He said that the new book is the second he has written, recalling that the first was a joint venture by himself and Professor Lloyd Waller of the digital transformation policy and governance section of The University of the West Indies (UWI).
Professor Waller is currently the executive director of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre, another of Bartlett’s pet projects in Jamaica, but also with offices in Africa the Middle East, Asia, and the Mediterranean.
Their first book is titled Tourism Resilience and Recovery for Global Sustainability and Development: Navigating COVID-19 and the Future.
One regional journalist, Micaiah Morgan, suggested: “Jamaica has wrapped up what is set to be its most outstanding summer in its tourism history,” adding that “The momentum does not seem to be slowing either, with the rest of the year looking equally promising.”
Bartlett’s book tackled the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters in recent years, coupled with the devastating effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic and the containment measures adopted by governments, which has made crystal clear the importance of addressing the sustainability of Caribbean tourism.
The new book carries a foreword by Dr Taleb Rifai, former secretary general of the United Nations World, who suggested that it provides “a comprehensive analysis of the international travel industry, giving readers a fresh perspective on how to adapt to a dynamic landscape”.
“It is a compilation of Bartlett’s insights, each one a thought provoking investigation of some part of tourism, from ocean economies that can be sustained to the important role that digital landscapes play in advancing the industry as a whole,” Dr Rifai added.
The book is divided into eight sections, each of which focuses on a certain facet of tourism. It also covers several industry topics, including “Resilient Tourism for Sustainable Ocean Economies”; “Building Jamaica’s Premier Tourism Destination”; “Resilient Tourism for Sustainability”; “Building Tourism Resilience”; “Jamaica’s Tourism Landscape”; “A Viable Case”; “Advancing Tourism in the Digital landscape”; “International Trade and Tourism”; “Promoting Sustainability in Tourism”; and “Cruise Tourism and Beyond”.
Bartlett highlighted the final chapter, which examines the complex landscape of cruise tourism, a segment that presents unique challenges and opportunities for resilience and sustainability.
“In total, this book provides readers with a comprehensive perspective on the multi-faceted nature of resilience and sustainable tourism, as it aims to inspire and inform stakeholders, policymakers, researchers, and enthusiasts alike to shape the future of tourism in ways that are not only economically beneficial, but also environmentally and socially responsible,” the minister noted.
“Through collaborative efforts and innovative strategies we can pave the way for a more resilient, vibrant and sustainable global tourism industry,” he concluded.
Other speakers included Dr Kevin Brown, president of UTech; Prince Graham-Haynes, head of school (acting); and a student of the university, Kawaine Anderson. The audience was entertained by singer Dimario McDowell, who rendered Louis Armstrong’s What a Beautiful World.