Written by: DOUGLAS McINTOSH
Jamaica will be extending support in several key areas to the Republic of Namibia’s tourism industry COVID-19 recovery programme.
This is being facilitated under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for tourism collaboration between the countries.
It comes as the Namibian authorities look to ramp up revitalisation efforts within the industry, which suffered a significant fallout in occupancy and employment levels, due to the pandemic.
Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, gave details during a meeting with Namibia’s Minister of Presidential Affairs, Hon. Christine Hoebes, at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices, on Friday (August 5).
Ms. Hoebes headed a high-level government delegation that is visiting the island.
Among the focus areas, he informed, are sustainability and resilience and destination assurance.
Mr. Bartlett maintained that countries “can make very strong strides together” in the critical area of sustainability and resilience.
He said, to that extent, “we will work with you to establish the Global Tourism and Resilience Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC) in Namibia”.
The Centre, which is headquartered at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus, is designed to help vulnerable countries globally to recover quickly from natural disasters.
It targets destination preparedness, management, and recovery from disruptions and/or crises that threaten economies and livelihoods globally, with real-time data and effective communication.
“We had that discussion earlier [this year] with your Deputy [Tourism] Minister. We met her in Madrid at our United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) meeting, and we discussed it. It was then that we decided that [the time for] that level of collaboration is now,” Mr. Bartlett added.
The Minister noted that safety, security, and seamless experiences are among the principal reasons persons travel, pointing out that these factors “are at the heart of the confidence that they [would] have in destinations”.
Mr. Bartlett said the Government, in recognition of this, initiated the development of a Destination Assurance Policy for Jamaica, the first and only country globally to have one, that was approved by Cabinet and Parliament, “and which we are about to promulgate”.
“Our ability to build that and to enable the visitor to embrace that feeling through what we call destination assurance, is a big part of our strategies. And so, we want to bring that strategy, also, to Namibia in the discussions,” the Minister added.
He maintained that this approach is the “essence of what’s going to define the new mode for travel”.
“People are going to be more and more confronted with disruptions; and so, having confidence in a destination is going to make the difference as to where you go,” the Minister added, citing marketing and human capital development among the other focus areas that Jamaica is looking to extend support to Namibia on.
Mr. Bartlett said he was “excited” about the MOU forged between Jamaica and Namibia.
“My team worked very closely with your team in Namibia to structure the arrangement, and central to it is our response to your recovery needs. We think that we can learn from you enormously, too, in terms of ecotourism and in terms of a number of other areas of sustainability that you have been able to deal with,” he added.
For her part, Minister Hoebes said she was “happy that we have signed the agreement on tourism”.
She indicated that it would serve to “strengthen the collaboration between the countries” and unlock some of the opportunities being experienced by Jamaica, for Namibia.