Coronavirus
JM | Dec 1, 2020

Nations must make critical investments in tourism crisis management, says Bartlett

/ Our Today

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Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett

By Fernando Davis

Even before COVID-19, Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett had been prophetic in warning stakeholders across the globe that there is an urgent need for a tourism resilience fund to achieve tourism recovery in the event of a potential disaster.

At a UNWTO conference held in Montego Bay, St James, to commemorate 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, Bartlett had warned that global tourism interests should take seriously the threat of pandemics and epidemics based on the declaration of pandemics in 2010 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as global security issues and a future global shock.

“It has been observed that the number of new diseases per decade has increased nearly fourfold over the past 60 years and, since 1980, the number of outbreaks per year has more than tripled,” Bartlett argued.

“Based on these facts, the OECD argued that there needs to be higher political and budgetary prioritisation of pandemics to promote human security in the same way other national security risks are prioritised.”

“Due to the combined effects of the pandemic and travel restrictions, 174 million jobs in tourism and travel are at risk while the total economic impact is expected to exceed over $1 trillion.”

Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s minister of tourism

Three years later, and with the world battling arguably the worst pandemic known to man, Bartlett is now redoubling his efforts for nations across the world to make the investment “so that we will never again be caught flat-footed”.

“This is the worst catastrophic event that global tourism has experienced since the Great Depression of 1929,” he added. 

“Due to the combined effects of the pandemic and travel restrictions, 174 million jobs in tourism and travel are at risk while the total economic impact is expected to exceed over $1 trillion.”

RESILIENT SEGMENT OF GLOBAL ECONOMY

Bartlett however added a caveat, saying that despite “the daunting challenges”, if there is one thing that is known about international tourism, it is that “tourism is one of the most resilient segments of the global economy”.

He added that while the impact of the pandemic will likely carry into 2021, most global destinations have been finding ways to adapt and have developed recovery plans to manage the reopening of their tourism industries.

The pace of recovery, the minister added, continues to vary from country to country. He noted that, fortunately, most of the world is now in a position to identify some of the success factors for reasonably paced recovery of the tourism sector based on the experiences of specific countries.

“Critically, effective leadership with the industry has been central to making tactical adjustments to business operations in the short term to ensure adaptability during the crisis and survival beyond,” Bartlett added. 

“The main concern of our tourism has always been the survival of tourism enterprises and the well-being of displaced workers in the sector. These two goals are crucial to recovery as tourism enterprises and workers constitute the backbone of the sector. The ministry’s approach to ensuring that the sector stays afloat during this period has emphasised fiscal stimulus to save jobs, sustain self-employment, and to support companies’ liquidity and operations.”

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