Jamaica minister of tourism, Edmund Bartlett, has declared February 17th as Global Tourism Resilience Day during a debut event at Expo 2020 in Dubai.
The annual day will showcase the need for the travel industry to focus on preparedness, crisis management, recovery and on-going resilience.
To mark the launch, the Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC) has partnered with the Global Travel & Tourism Resilience Council and the International Tourism Investment Corporation (ITIC).
The organisations today hosted an in-depth forum at the DP World Pavilion at Expo 2020.
Minister Bartlett said: “The ability of the tourism industry to regenerate itself is well-known, it has been demonstrated by the recovery post-SARS, the terror attacks of 9/11, the economic disruption of 2007-08 and then the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Each caused a downturn in travel and tourism – with the most recent example being the most difficult, an existential disruption embracing every part of the world simultaneously.
“The most recent events have been unprecedented in their significance.
“But we have bounced back, and we are now in a position to grow exponentially; tourism has been the fastest growing industry in the world over the past 50-years and it will be again.
“However, there has been an asymmetry in the most recent recoveries; some destinations have grown strong, but others have struggled to recover their positions in the market.”
He added: “We need new methods to ensure a more balanced recovery – and a mechanism to ensure that nobody is left behind; Global Tourism Resilience Day will allow us to work toward this goal.
“Our ability to bounce back is a strong message, one we have taken to showcase how countries can anticipate, mitigate and overcome disruptions.
“We are also seeking to manage disruption once it arrives, as well as how to recover, quickly, before beginning to thrive once again.”
Speaking at the event, GTRCMC co-founder and a former general secretary of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Taleb Rifai, confirmed a new resilience centre will be founded in Amman, capital of Jordan.
The location follows centres in Jamaica and Nairobi, capital of Kenya.
He added: “It is a great honour to have centre in Jordan – tourism is a wonderful industry, when you travel you become part of the world and have the opportunity to change it.
“We must all work to make the world a better place to live in.”
Global Tourism Resilience Day has been acknowledged by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), UNWTO, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) and other industry leading bodies.
GTRCMC has plans for a total of 11 centres, with a further eight to be unveiled in the coming months.
In Africa, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Botswana, Ghana and South Africa are in line.
Elsewhere, Canada has signed a memorandum of understanding to open a centre at George Brown College, while Bulgaria, Sevilla in Spain, Barbados, Bahamas and Guatemala have offered support.
Kenya minister of tourism, Najib Balala, explained: “We face a number of crises; political, economic and now medical.
“We do bounce back, but we have not learned the lessons of how to do so quickly – and that is what Global Tourism Resilience Day is all about.
“Kenya has sought to take a lead in this process, and we are only just beginning to see what we can achieve.”
Alongside the declaration, the GTRCMC has launched a book on tourism resilience.
Written by professor Lloyd Waller, executive director of the GTRCMC, alongside minister Bartlett, it seeks to share best practice gained during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Find out more about the GTRCMC on the official website.