Jamaica to host OAS high-level forum

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By Douglas McIntosh

KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Jamaica will host the inaugural Organization of American States (OAS) high-level forum on building small and medium tourism enterprises’ (SMTEs) resilience against disasters, in Montego Bay, from July 20 to 21.

Tourism minister, Edmund Bartlett, announced on Tuesday, July 12, said representatives from more than 50 countries across the region of the Americas are expected to attend the event.

He was speaking during the opening ceremony for the eighth ‘Christmas in July’ trade show, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in New Kingston, on Tuesday, July 12. A total of 180 entities are participating in the ‘Christmas in July’ trade show, which runs until Wednesday, July 13.

Bartlett said the decision to stage the two-day meeting was prompted by a report focussing on SMTEs’ recovery from the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. That document was prepared and submitted by the OAS’ Recovery Task Force, which was chaired by minister Bartlett, following a forum in 2021.

“As a result of that report, the focus that we had on SMTEs [has become] the focus now, of the OAS in this recovery dispensation,” he informed.

Bartlett advised that next week’s forum, which is being sponsored by the OAS, will be held in tandem with the Caribbean Hotel and Tourist Association (CHTA).

Jamaica previously hosted the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) SMTE global conference, in 2019, in Montego Bay.

The minister pointed out that Jamaica, which chairs the OAS Inter-American Committee on Tourism (CITUR), “has been leading the discussions in the UNWTO circles, and all over the world on building [SMTE resilience].”

Meanwhile, Bartlett cited training, financing and marketing as the three key pillars for “future-proofing” SMTE resilience.

Regarding training, the minister said it is imperative to buildout stakeholders’ capacity, including “the mental acuity and the abilities of our creative minds and producers,” to do more, in terms of outputs.

He emphasised the need for them to have a “broader sense of their creative horizons” and to be able to “convert that creative energy into material goods.”

Additionally, Bartlett said it is crucial to provide financial support to enable the conversion of ideas as well as build inventory and capacity “to produce more, and to manage that process of production [and enhance that through] marketing.”

Against this background, Bartlett commended the Tourism Linkages Network (TLN) for its work in facilitating value-added industry outputs.

“Adding value is what makes the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary. Adding value is what takes you to the next stage of your own development, and adding value is what gives you joy and satisfaction [knowing that] you have accomplished,” the minister said.

“That’s what the Linkages Network has been able to do for the tourism industry. It has added value to [the] contribution and involvement of the small and medium enterprises that are so critical to the delivery of the tourism experience,” Bartlett added.

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