As Jamaica continues its robust economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett has again emphasised the importance of tourism diplomacy as a key driver in boosting investment in Jamaica’s tourism product and attracting sustainable growth opportunities to the country.
Bartlett made the disclosure following the recent inaugural CARICOM-Saudi Arabia Summit in Riyadh, where he played a pivotal role in leading discussions around resilience building and sustainability.
The tourism minister formed a part of the delegation led by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who participated in the summit alongside 14 heads of government from the Caribbean. Over three days, regional leaders engaged in high-level discussions with the Saudi Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud, his cabinet ministers, and private-sector stakeholders. The event marked a significant development in the geopolitical arena, forging new perspectives on investments and tourism.
It was noted that the summit follows the initial visit by Ahmed Al Khateeb, minister of tourism for Saudi Arabia, to Jamaica in 2021, on the invitation of Bartlett, who has also visited Saudia Arabia to continue discussions with Al Khateeb and other stakeholders in a bid to forge a strong tourism partnership between both countries and fuel investments.
Bartlett said: “This summit is a testament to the power of tourism as a tool for not only tourism related investments but for peace and diplomacy. It brings together nations with diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, united by a common vision and an unwavering determination to improve the lives of their citizens.”
During the summit, the Saudi Crown Prince, who is the visionary behind the Saudi Vision 2030, addressed tourism ministers, industry professionals, and leaders. He outlined the Saudi Kingdom’s strategic plan, which is aimed at reducing its reliance on oil, and places tourism at the forefront. Hosting World EXPO 2030 in Riyadh is a key aspiration, and the support from Caribbean nations is integral.
The meetings on the sidelines of the summit saw Caribbean leaders engaging with private-sector companies to explore investment opportunities. Al-Khateeb underscored the Saudi Kingdom’s commitment to positive and sustainable change.
“The Kingdom, guided by its wise leadership, is capable of achieving global prosperity and development through international cooperation,” he noted.
Reflecting on the potential for growth that has been unlocked as a result of the summit, Bartlett added: “The meeting between Caribbean leaders and Saudi Arabia’s private-sector companies revealed promising opportunities. The Kingdom’s thriving private sector aims to drive sustainable change, ensuring prosperity and development for not just local businesses but international ones as well. Saudi Arabia’s global outlook makes them the ideal strategic partner for small island developing states and tourism partners in the Caribbean.”