Edmund Bartlett, minister of tourism, Jamaica, and co-chair, Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre, speaks on the strategy behind the first Global Tourism Resilience Day launched at Expo 2020 Dubai. He explains how his government’s efforts will support and guide the world’s tourism-led economies
BY PARSA VENKATESHWAR RAO JR
Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s minister of tourism and co-chair of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre, is a man with a clear view of what needs to be done for tourism to recover from the disruptions caused by the pandemic. At the same time, he is also aware of the challenges posed to tourism by the climate change crisis. Regarding the pandemic, he feels that what is needed is to build the knowledge base of people engaged in the industry so that they can deal with the situation responsibly. And on the climate change front, he feels the goal should be sustainability and the means should be innovation.
In a telephonic interview with Pravasi Indians from Dubai, where he was attending the United Arab Emirates (UAE) National Day at Expo 2020,
Bartlett spoke of Jamaica’s long and strong India connection, and how many things Indian are part of Jamaican cuisine, music and culture. Excerpts from the interview:
How far has Jamaican tourism recovered from the disruptions caused by Covid-19?
Jamaican tourism has recovered to 60 to 68 percent of its pre-pandemic level. And the earnings have touched 80 percent of the previous levels. Cruise tourism is yet to return, and it is awaiting the green light.
What is the agenda of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre, of which you are the co-chair?
The purpose of the centre is to build consensus, to understand disruptions caused by the pandemic, and to ease restrictions for economic recovery. It is also to create a knowledge base and to innovate to revive tourism. Most of the world had some level of restrictions. No doubt, it is necessary to deal with the ongoing situation but economic well-being is priority while we learn to live with Covid.
The other major challenge facing the tourism sector is that of the climate crisis, mainly due to carbon emissions. What is the strategy to face this challenge?
Tourism must become sustainable. The physical environment must be protected.
Will it be necessary to restrict commercialisation of tourism to protect the environment?
I do not believe in restrictions. The better way is to innovate and be responsible. It will need the social participation of the people to preserve the environment and make tourism sustainable. What we need to talk about is preparing for a new normal.
Is ecological tourism the answer to the climate change challenge?
Ecological tourism has been with us for a while. Tourism can contribute to the environment if people are made to plant more trees, to replenish the environment. We have to add value, and invest in the environment.
And what are you doing for India- Jamaica tourism?
Jamaica is a confluence of cultures, and the Indian diaspora is an important part of Caribbean culture. Jamaican cuisine is hugely influenced by Indian ingredients. And the music. And we share the passion for cricket and a lot more.