12 Sep Driving resilience and crisis management
Minister Bartlett has received plaudits aplenty for his work in creating solutions to tourism industry challenges and difficulties globally
Earlier this year, scores of tourism industry experts, business executives and local dignitaries gathered in Kingston for the first Global Tourism Resilience Conference, an event that was the brainchild of the country’s Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Center (GTRCMC).
Described by Minister Bartlett as an “earth-breaking international event”, the landmark conference in February was organized to help the nation chart a new path for the key industry and help to ensure the sector continues to recover better and stronger post-COVID-19.
“While we talk about building resilience for tourism, we have to focus on the wider perspective on social, economic, political, health and security disruptions,” Minister Bartlett — who is credited with creating the world’s first GTRCMC in 2019 — told the esteemed audience.
The minister has been the main spearhead for resilience planning, using the experience of the Caribbean as a pioneer that other regions can follow. This role has been made easier through his vast experience as Chairman of the Board of Affiliate Members of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and during one tenure as tourism minister was Vice Chairman of the Executive Council of the UNWTO, representing the Americas.
Preparation key to overcoming obstacles
According to the industry and political veteran, the overwhelming priority is to build capacity to “predict, mitigate, manage disruptions when they arise, recover quickly and to thrive thereafter”. With this in mind, his innovative idea of a “voluntary resilience tip” paid by tourists worldwide was well received and may be adopted by the global industry in the future.
“The ultimate goal of the GTRCMC is to assist destination preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions and/or crises that affect tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods globally,” he adds. “It is tasked with creating, producing and generating toolkits, guidelines and policies to assist with preparatory and recovery efforts of tourism stakeholders affected by climatic, pandemic, cyber-crime and cyber-terrorism related disruptions.
“The center is of particular importance in the region, because of the vulnerability of the Caribbean to climatic and other disruptions. This is primarily because our tourism industries in the region are dependent on a number of infrastructure, such as airports and hotels, so structural integrity is important.”
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Tourism, has been strategizing the recovery of Jamaica’s tourism industry. However, the goal of the recovery has not been the resumption of the traditional way of doing business, but to use the opportunity to re-imagine and re-invent its strong tourism product and value chains.
“By doing so,” Minister Bartlett adds, “we have championed the Blue Ocean Strategy as the theoretical underpinning of this plan of action. This strategy is the simultaneous pursuit of differentiation and low cost to open new market spaces and create new demand. It is about creating and capturing uncontested market space, thereby rendering competition irrelevant.”
Minister Bartlett is also highly involved in The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), an entity overseen by his department that leads tourism innovation in the areas of transformational infrastructural and sustainable projects, human capital development and tourism linkages through the applied utilization of research data.
In 2022, the TEF launched the Innovation Challenge with partners as a pilot of the core Tourism Innovation Incubator process. The initiative is a business development center for individuals like entrepreneurs with innovative ideas that can impact the tourism sector. It is designed to provide a unique and highly flexible combination of services and to nurture the young entrepreneurs and support them through the early stages of development and execution.
“After the recovery from COVID-19 started, we learned how all the other disruptions have occurred and that are now going to be challenging; new ideas is what we need to meet such challenges,” Minister Bartlett concludes.