Experts in resilience planning from around the world have gathered in Amman on June 27th to discuss practical ways of ensuring the resilience of travel and tourism for the benefit of destinations, communities, travel suppliers and travellers.

The Resilience Through Tourism Summit brings together speakers and attendees from the public and private sectors, NGOs and media to showcase Jordan and to share lessons, pool resources and establish best practice.

The opening session of the Summit this morning was addressed by H E Lina Annab, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities in Jordan.

The Ministry is host partner together with the Jordan Tourism Board, whose managing director Dr Abed Al Razzaq addressed the guests followed by remarks by USAID's deputy mission director Dr Lewis J Tatem. USAID is the supporting partner in organising the event.

Dr Tatem said: “The United States and the Government of Jordan maintain a long-standing partnership in advancing the country’s economic well-being, and tourism is a sector that holds specific importance and potential for Jordan’s economic growth and resilience. USAID remains committed to supporting Jordan as it works to expand this sector and strengthen the country’s economic stability and prosperity.”

Other speakers in the opening session included Isabel Hill, director of the US Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, Professor Lee Miles of Bournemouth University in the UK, and Deepak Joshi, chief executive of the Nepal Tourism Board.

In a keynote address this afternoon, Taleb Rifai, head of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) until the end of last year and a former tourism minister of Jordan, will call for travel and tourism to develop deeper “roots in local communities”.

Rifai said: “We are talking about how to keep economies going and keep jobs alive. That is important not just for Jordan but all over the Middle East and all over the world. Tourism can do so much that other sectors can’t, but this does not come automatically.

“What is most important is tourism’s impact on the local community. It’s not enough to have the private sector sharing profits. We need to ensure everyone in a country benefits, that whatever comes to a country is shared. Simply providing jobs will not be enough in the future. It is not enough just to serve rich people. We can’t continue to build five-star hotels in three-star communities. We must build tourism with strong connections with communities. People must feel that every visitor is their own guest.”

Rifai will also highlight the significance of the Summit taking in place in Jordan at this moment. He said: “We have been going through a difficult time, but there is a great sense of optimism and of looking forward. The fact that we are holding this Summit and that people are coming to meet in Amman at this time is extremely important for us.”

H E Edmund Bartlett, minister of tourism for Jamaica who addressed the Summit this morning, said: “Tourism has morphed into this mega-industry. It dominates so many countries’ economies, but with it come enormous vulnerabilities. Tourism is by its nature fragile. It is vulnerable to climate events. It’s sensitive to crime, to terrorism and now to cyberattacks.

“A number of countries are heavily dependent on tourism, the Caribbean among them, and that makes the ability to build resilience against climate change and all kinds of disruption critical.”

Bartlett said: “We need people to come back quickly following disruption. Tourism is one of the best ways for a country to bounce back. It brings wealth. You don’t have to sow a seed and wait.” But he added: “The arguments for resilience are new to tourism. The industry’s focus is on product and the environment. The tendency is to conserve.”

Bartlett will open a Global Centre for Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management in Jamaica in September.

Daniela Wagner, summit organiser and Jacobs Media Group director of international partnerships, said: “Jordan is a country that has constantly striven to maintain peace in the Middle East. It has used tourism as a driver for economic growth and the development of social enterprise initiatives and it continues to drive tourism growth through innovation and promotion.

“Jacobs Media Group is proud to hold its first regional resilience summit in Amman, in partnership with the Jordan Tourism Board and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and with USAID and the Building Economic Sustainability through Tourism Project (BEST). We could not have selected a better partner destination for this initiative and we are delighted that so many world-class speakers and representatives from the public and private sectors have agreed to participate in this summit.”

Duncan Horton, chief executive of Jacobs Media Group, parent company of UK-based Travel Weekly Group, added: “Travel Weekly Group aims to be a leader in the development of thought-leadership initiatives which help to share best practice in key areas including technology, training, investment, communications and recovery programmes.”

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