The world’s most tourism-dependent destinations are also those most vulnerable to shocks, making development of their capacity for recovery essential.

That is the view of Jamaican tourism minister Edmund Bartlett, who told the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) summit in Gangneung, South Korea: “Resilience is the over-arching requirement.”

Bartlett said: “It is repeated ad nauseum that we are the largest industry in the world. Tourism has become a central piece of economic growth.”

But he said: “The countries with the highest income generated from tourism are the higher income countries – the US, the UK, Germany, Japan.

“They have a capacity and competence to drive both the demand side and the supply side of tourism that allows them to retain the wealth from tourism.”

By contrast, he said, countries with the greatest dependence on tourism “are characterised by high unemployment, by safety issues and are vulnerable to exogenous shocks because of where they are situated”.

“The poorer countries are hewers of wood and drawers of water. How do we benefit from tourism and become wealthy from it?”

Bartlett told the summit: “The product for us is nature. It only has value if it is preserved because it is finite. But there is infinite demand. How do we enable more?

“We have to look at the things that will disrupt and shock us – wars, terrorism, technology disruption, cyber disruption, nature disruptions and the mix of man and nature in pandemics.

“The challenge is how do we manage and mitigate these disruptions and how do we recover from them?”

Bartlett is planning to open a Resilience Centre in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in September.

He will address the Resilience through Tourism Summit in Jordan taking place on June 26-27.

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