Edmund Bartlett, minister of tourism, Jamaica
Jamaica has a broad sustainability strategy that has three main pillars. First, climate resilience: we want to develop our island’s capacity to prevent and mitigate natural disasters, such as hurricanes and floods. We want to improve the country’s infrastructure so that it can cope better with seismic events as well; we want to enhance our knowledge to prevent the collapse of buildings.
Second, we want to expand our economy through tourism, creating jobs and helping SMEs in that sector to grow.
Third, the development of human capacity is very important to us. Tourism is central to this, as it has a strong connection with many other business sectors on the island. We want to put the right legal framework in place to attract FDI into tourism and related sectors. We would like to see this investment in bigger airports, new aviation facilities, new highways and, of course, new accommodation.
Our people must be trained so that they are better qualified and have the competences for the tourism industry. In Jamaica, the tourism industry must be diversified, must use local resources and must include the local communities.
Gustavo Santos, minister of tourism, Argentina
Currently, Argentina attracts about 6 million foreign tourists a year – we want that to expand to 9 million by 2020. That is our vision. Our country is extraordinarily diverse: we have five different climates and five different types of landscape. Argentina is 11 times the size of the UK, for example. From February 14, there will be a low-cost option to fly from London Gatwick to Buenos Aires with Norwegian Airlines. We believe this will bring many more European tourists to our country.
The developed world has destroyed its nature in many parts. On the other hand, Argentina wants to conserve itself, to be that natural paradise, and to showcase our natural beauty to the world. In five to 10 years’ time, when people throughout the world think about nature, we want them to automatically consider Argentina. That is our goal.
We have taken the strategic decision to double the total size of our national parks from the current 4.4 million hectares. The development of ecotourism is at the heart of our tourism strategy. We want to open up the whole country to tourists, not just have the industry centred around Buenos Aires.
Mauricio Ventura, minister of tourism, Costa Rica
Costa Rica has had a sustainable tourism strategy since the 1970s. We started to establish a network of national parks at that time and since then we have built on the success of that early strategy. The government has always wanted to use the country’s natural beauty as a way to present it to the rest of the world and to attract visitors.
Our nation has 32 tourism development areas. From the word go, we decided not to concentrate the tourism facilities in one part of the country. We wanted the benefits to be dispersed, to involve all the country’s local communities. This creates a great experience for the visitor too, as we have an array of microclimates, including the Caribbean and Pacific coasts and the rainforests. The forests bring an almost Amazonian experience for the visitor.
The tourism sector is becoming more and more important to our country. The number of direct flights from European cities has shot up from one to eight within the past two years. We have become better known in many, many international markets but it is vital that our tourism growth is sustainable and for the long term.