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Jamaica to Host OAS Multi-hazard and Contingency Planning Seminars

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The Ministry of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture, which between July 11-13 hosted a World Tourism Organization seminar on Marketing Budgeting in Ocho Rios, will be embarking on another assessment and capacity building forum to enhance the tourism sector.

The Ministry, in collaboration with the Organisation of American States (OAS), with support from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) and the Tourism Enhancement Fund, will next week host a one-day workshop and seminar on Multi-Hazard and Contingency Planning.

The event will be duplicated in the two major cities and is scheduled for July 31st and August 2nd at the Holiday Inn Sunspree in Montego Bay and Hilton Kingston respectively. The workshop will focus on assessing and preparing private and public sector actors in the tourism sector for natural and man-made hazards as well as the best mechanisms to be used when interfacing with the national bodies responsible for disaster preparedness, emergencies and crisis management.

Meanwhile, the newly configured Caribbean OAS/CDERA Multi-hazard Contingency Planning Manual, which will be presented at the seminars, will introduce an institutional framework and specific approaches to disaster planning for the tourism sector. This manual provides information on standard operational best practices and guidelines for preparing, responding and recovering from natural disasters and man made disasters which include terrorism.

Minister of Tourism, Entertainment & Culture, Aloun Ndombet Assamba says the OAS/CDERA workshops are well-timed, not only because we are in the midst of a hurricane season, but because more interest groups were likely to respond given our proneness to catastrophes such as hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.

“Because the tourism industry is such a vital economic force in the Caribbean and indeed Jamaica, I expect that all hotel operators, environmental planning entities and technical experts to jump at this opportunity to participate and even if space is limited, they should aim to get a copy of this manual” entreated the Minister, who quipped that any kind of complacency should be discouraged because such attitudes are high-risk.

The Minister states that whereas Jamaica had seen significant recovery from the major blows to the tourism sector by Hurricane Ivan, “an event such as this should not be ignored as it will help us implement good back-plans and act with clear headedness and dispatch in high stress situations. It is bound to augur well for the sustainability and preservation of this important tourism product.”

She emphasises that the continued health of the sector is an important factor in generating jobs, revenue and infra-structure development through the region and this initiative is geared to maintain the sector’s long-term viability.

“The Ministry of Tourism, Entertainment & Culture welcomes this partnership with the OAS/CDERA partnership because, at any cost affordable, the tourism sector must be prepared to endure and recover from a wide range of hazards and emergencies,” outlined Minister Assamba.

Two of the most significant threats to the industry are hurricanes and terrorist incidents, which can both cause significant physical and structural damage, lead to human injuries and loss of life and impact the attractiveness of a destination to potential visitors.

Jamaica is vulnerable to natural disasters primarily because of its geography, geomorphology and the fragile stage of economic development. The island is located in an earthquake zone and suffers from the effects of seasonal climatic changes, so is not immune to tsunamis.

The island is also vulnerable to man-made disasters which include fires, chemical spills, biological and radioactive contamination and other major accidents. Other man-made disasters, for example, marine spills from vessels and land-based sources, can create severe environmental pollution hazards that can negatively impact tourism, fisheries and marine transportation.

The programme is geared towards managers and owners of Tourism establishments as well as disaster risk assessors, disaster managers and environmentalists. The workshop is free and the OAS/CDERA manual will be provided to attendees.

Contact: Peter S. Kelly
Public Relations Officer, Corporate Communications Division
Tel: (876)908-5953 Direct; Mobile: (876) 498-0936
Fax: (876) 920-6512; E-mail: [email protected]

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