Natural disasters, safety and security all affect tourists’ decisions to travel to the Caribbean.
Gail Henry of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation said that there were many considerations tourism agencies had to factor into how they plan and manage sustainable tourism development in this “not business as usual” environment.
“From a tourism industry perspective, when there is a natural disaster, tourist destinations can experience decline in tourist arrivals to an affected area; decrease in tourism revenue and the economic slowdown due to a lack of visitors; decline in business revenue or business closure and job loss due to lower visitor spend; decrease in disposable income of locals leading to multiplier effects in the affected areas which cause more businesses to decline and increase in government spending due to lower tax revenue, combined with providing recovery-related aid,” she said.
“Is it not better to avoid or minimise the loss of life, livelihoods, property, economic decline and negative images of Caribbean destinations by developing their institutional capacity and management systems for disaster risk management and climate change awareness than to face the fallout of such negative impacts?,” she asked delegates during a meeting titled “Regional Monitoring and Evaluation System for Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation in the Tourism Sector in the Caribbean” which was held in Kingston, Jamaica on Thursday, 9 August.
She said recent disasters had significantly impacted tourism and society in many destinations including the United States, Mexico, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and India. In fact, she noted, many destinations, including New Orleans and Port-au-Prince, have extended periods of recovery while some never fully recover.
Ms Henry said the Caribbean Tourism Organisation recognised the need to develop capacity to execute strategies, but also recognised there were often limited financial, technical and human resources.
“For the future, we also see a necessity for regional and national level agencies to develop stronger relationships not just with each other but with the donor community and tertiary level institutions such as the University of the West Indies,” she said. “Working collaboratively in a coordinated and strategic manner is how we envision that the gap between scientific research, policy making and developing practical tools and systems to address disaster risk management and climate change adaptation can be closed.”