For small developing countries like Jamaica and most other Caribbean islands the cost of repairs after natural disasters, which have been compounded by climate change, can negatively impact development.
This view was expressed by Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, on Friday (September 26), the eve of World Tourism Day, while he was addressing a seminar and exhibition at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay St. James, organised in commemoration of World Tourism Day, and themed 'Climate Change and the Bottom-line... the Strategic Business Outlook for Jamaica's Tourism Sector'.
Positing that Climate Change can and will have devastating effects on tourism, Minister Bartlett added that the sector needs to be proactive and put plans in place to cushion the expected effects.
"The tourism sector especially must respond by planning strategically, and must make wise investment choices. We will need to reduce our carbon emissions intelligently and apply existing technologies to improve energy efficiency in order to respond expeditiously to the impact of our own operations," he suggested.
"The environment in fact forms the very basis of our tourism product. As such, the sector will need to respond rapidly to climate change, if it is to develop sustainably," he stated.
Outlining a number of adversities that are predicted by scientists to affect the Caribbean region as a result of climate change, he pointed out that the region has also been highlighted as one of several tourism hot spots around the world that is especially vulnerable to weather phenomenon.
The Tourism Minister suggested that, not only must destination Jamaica adapt in response to the physical impacts of climate change, but it must also contribute to the overall global thrust to reduce carbon emissions associated with tourism. He insisted that an effort must be made to move beyond making Jamaica's tourism industry "climate proof" to becoming "climate responsible."
The seminar and exhibition was being hosted by the Ministry and its agencies, including the Jamaica Tourist Board, the Tourism Product Development Company, and the Tourism Enhancement Fund, in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization.
World Tourism Day 2008, will be observed on September 27 by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, under the theme 'Tourism Responding to the challenge of Climate Change'. The forum and exhibition was attended by several tourism stakeholders from across the island, as well as senior Government officials responsible for investment, destination marketing, climate, and environmental services, and disaster mitigation.
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