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July 6, 2020

UNWTO Tonight: What all happened at the Jamaica Gala Dinner?

Jamaica again is the center of world tourism tonight when Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Edward Bartlett invited to the official Gala Dinner for delegates attending the  UNWTO Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Attended by the heads of state from Jamaica, St. Lucia and the Dominican Republic and by ministers of tourism, senior members of the tourism leadership from throughout the Caribbean, and a special guest among others was Miss Universe Jamaica

Bartlett said: “I am proud to welcome tourism leaders and participants from around the world, as we celebrate the achievement of stalwarts in global tourism. We welcome His Excellency Danillo Media from the Dominican Republic, the keynote speaker, Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of St. Lucia and the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica, and the Hon. Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization.

I commend UNWTO, the World Bank Group, Inter American Development Bank, Chemonics International, George Washington University, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Organization (CHTA), the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) as well as, our sponsors and stakeholders, for their contributions to this conference.

We are therefore using this unique context, here in Montego Bay, to honor the achievements of several distinctive players in our industry. These persons have paved the way for advancement in tourism, on land, air and sea. And through their distinctive brands, have generated employment, increased income, stimulated global trade, as well as created linkages which protect and sustain our cultural environments. ”

Awarded was David Scowsill, former president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). He led an impressive global outreach drive which helped to attract companies from Asia as well as a mix of online and technology business. The award was accepted on his behalf by his partner Rick Ferree.

Taleb Rifai received his award and also received a standing applause. He has been leading the UNWTO with distinction and a vision unknown before. Taleb will leave his position on December 31.  Taleb said: Mission accomplished  – and without doubt, he did manage to get travel and tourism on the global map and make the importance of this industry what it is today. His legacy will be remembered.

Him running the industry from his speeches starting with “Dear Friends…” will most certainly be missed soon.

The future of UNWTO under the new Secretary General-Elect Zurab has many question marks also in the close UNWTO family. Jobs may be replaced, eliminated – suspense and silence remain just one month before this uncertain change of leadership. Zurab certainly will need a lot of help and goodwill. There is plenty of this in the travel industry, but will Zurab accept it? Tonight this was not the question. Zurab was not among the audience, and a lot of thank you, a big party with Jamaican performance, and the great achievements by Jamaica and the Caribbean world was on the agenda.

The Santo Domingo Prime minister in his speech mentioned the MOU signed with Jamaica today to create an even closer brand for the Caribbean as a single travel destination.

A reward went to Micky Arison, Chairman, and CEO of Carnival Corporation, to Frank Rainieri, president& CEO of Puntacana Group. Among his merits was the creation of Punta Cana, as a tourist destination.

Gorden “Butch” Stewart from Jamaica received the award He is the owner and founder of Sandals Resort and had a remarkable story to tell, eTN will publish at a later time.


Miss Universe Jamaica was a guest of honor.
Jamaican Music,  great Jamaican Food, and a country that lives tourism and hospitality had a chance to represent to the world tonight – and it was a great success.


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