Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Chief of Operations for Jamaica, Lorenzo Escondeur, says sustainable tourism practices must be implemented and maintained locally to guard against the impact of climate change.
Escondeur, who was speaking during a Ministry of Tourism Strategy Development Workshop at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James on Friday (June 2), said it is also necessary for Jamaica to build climate resilience by moving forward with “tourism land-use planning by destination” and developing a comprehensive and integrated coastal management framework to boost the sector’s competitiveness and sustainability.
“Climate change’s impact is a [major] issue of concern, not only for the tourism sector, but all Jamaicans. Tourism has not yet achieved its full transformational potential, and with the challenges that exist, including environmental degradation, new disruptive technologies, and a rapid change in demand patterns, it is necessary to reconsider tourism policies and investments and the role of the public sector and multilateral organisations in the sector’s development,” the IDB official noted.
He pointed out that the threat of erosion and sargassum proliferation “is, unfortunately, deepening by the minute.”
“Finding ways to reduce its impact on the tourism economy would be critical, moving forward. Failure to address these challenges in a timely fashion could jeopardize Jamaica’s main factors of attraction driving tourism activity forever,” he added.
Escondeur contended that while there are challenges, there are also opportunities, noting that the Tourism Ministry and Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) have done an “excellent job” promoting the country’s culture, which he described as “one of its strongest assets.”
He maintained that with more of that work as well as tailoring of the legal framework for developing and marketing new tourism products, there is a chance to attract more tourists to Jamaica.
“Gastronomic tourism, reggae tourism, and community-based tourism are also opportunities. These types of products could help boost the multiplier effect at the sector level, de-seasonalise tourist destinations, and lengthen the average stay,” he indicated.
“We should also think of reinforcing the role that governments play in the tourism product and its capacity to enable the design of effective public policies. This will spur an increase in tourist spending, specifically spending per visitor, and will boost private investment,” he further stated.
Escondeur said effective public policies will also reduce the sector’s informality, strengthen job retention, reduce the gender gap in the industry’s labour market, and reinforce human capital.
He said the IDB will continue supporting the Jamaican Government to design and implement an evidence-based strategy that guides all public and private sector stakeholders into a new future.
“We are honored to collaborate with Jamaica’s Ministry of Tourism on this project, and we would like to thank the Government of Jamaica and the Honorable [Portfolio] Minister [Edmund] Bartlett and his team, for the trust they have given us and for letting us be part of this endeavour.
“The IDB is convinced that outcomes from this event will enrich all the work done [to date] to foster a more competitive, resilient, inclusive, and sustainable tourism sector,” Escondeur added.