'Exclusive' resorts are nothing more than modern-day plantations, warns top tourism official

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tourism-official-rifai.jpgSecretary General of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Taleb Rifai, in a no holds barred address on Tuesday, told Caribbean tourism stakeholders to stop promoting exclusive resorts, because they are "modern-day plantations".

Rifai, who is based in Madrid, Spain, where he has held the Secretary-General post since being unanimously elected in 2010, made the call during day two of the UNWTO Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth, now on at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James, Jamaica.

The Secretary General was searingly honest and clearly not concerned about ruffling feathers; he cautioned against the practice of building five-star resorts in three-star communities, where the citizens were not part of the transformation. He told the top level gathering of tourism stakeholders that they cannot continue to have their visitors in bubbles, where there are walls between the visitor and the community.

Rifai emphasised that the opportunities in tourism should carry the end result of inclusive economic growth, more decent jobs, the distribution of wealth, shared prosperity and respect for each other.

His comments were made in the presence of several all-inclusive hotel operators, the country's prime minister, Andrew Holness, president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, tourism minister Edmund Bartlett and several other dignitaries representing the industry.