I’ve been an avid consumer of Covid-19 news, it’s been fascinating in a number of ways. Especially if you remove yourself from the reality of it, this is quite a historic. When you survey the countries and their responses it makes you realize that situations like these reveal our true character.
At the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator, we’ve been talking about building back better and creating a stronger region in the aftermath of COVID. This is not about if we come out stronger despite Covid19 or because of it. Ultimately there’s an argument for both. We are the most tourism dependent region in the world and there are 10 reasons why I think our Tourism will be better than ever moving forward.
- First, we’ve been reminded what we’re made of. When Hurricane season hits it’s typically just us that are knocked back on our heels. This pandemic has set us all back equally to some extent and how we’ve responded has helped remind us of how well we perform under pressure. We’ve been reminded that with limited resources and a host of other challenges we can step up and perform as well or better than the best resourced nations on the planet, and that should spur us to an even greater recovery.
- We know how to build back. For many countries the pandemic is a historic setback of historic proportions. Climate change and the forces of nature force us to have to build back each time there is a Hurricane Maria or Dorian. We know how to build back and we will use these skills and knowledge to build back our biggest contributor to GDP.
- We’re being forced to focus. The issue that we’re facing now isn’t a passive issue. It’s an active one forcing us to focus daily on the actions that we’re taking to contain the spread as well as reopen safely. As a result, we’ve developed an array of reopening protocols and collaborations that will put us on better footing and make us more competitive than we were before.
- We’ve lost the luxury of indecision – One of the greatest challenges of the region has been our risk averse behavior. It’s been typically safer to do nothing than to do something and get it catastrophically wrong. We’ve lost the luxury of indecision and now we’re forced to take action and take risks; that will build even greater resilience.
- We’re accessing debt forgiveness – Debt has been a perennial issue in the region. The scale of our response has caused the IMF to call for large scale debt forgiveness which will refocus our resources on building things that matter. We’re able to pay it forward rather than pay it back.
- Diversification is front and center. – Diversification is to the region what medals are to the Olympics; it’s all we ever want. At the same time, we’ve been unable to take significant action to build other industries alongside tourism. Tourism is what we know, but our singular reliance on it brought us to our knees. The answer isn’t to make tourism smaller but to continue to grow it while we build other industries to create a bigger pie overall.
- We’re using innovation –Innovation is the magic potion that will allow us not to build what we had, but build something that’s even better. Work from home has a whole new meaning. Our family would fantasize where we’d wish we were sheltering in place. Luckily, we were already here but I have a feeling we weren’t the only ones thinking about it. We have the ability to capitalize on all of those people for whom home is anywhere where there’s a robust internet connection and a beach to create an army of Digital Nomads whose long-term stays are a more intimate form of tourism.
- Exclusive and Experiential Tourism – The foundation of our regional GDP will change for the foreseeable future or forever. It will become more exclusive as experiences are tailored for each guest and individualized to create physically distant encounters that keep us all safe. It will look and feel different. In many ways, the global pandemic has caused us to take stock and look at how we live and the impact that we have on the planet. Our expectation is that it’ll create a new and intimate tourism product.
- Our interconnectedness and impact on the planet is undeniable. We’re seeing first-hand what we’re doing to the planet. It’ll force our hand to ensure that whatever we create is greener and cleaner with a smaller footprint and greater care to our environment that sustains our life.
- We’ve realized how important it is to get out. My first run post shelter in place was one of the best runs I’ve ever had. To feel the sun and breeze on my face was exhilarating. It was probably the best thing I had done for my mental health in ages. The experience of sheltering in place showed us how important it is to get out, enjoy nature, spend time with family and go to the beach. These things are creating an even greater desire for the safe, green, innovative reimagined tourism that we are building now.
In our webinar Tourism Better than Ever, we’ll explore what we’ve put in place to make it safe for people to return, the resources you can access to know what protocols apply where. How air lift is making flying safer, innovation and how technology and robust infrastructure are creating a new definition of home. Finally, it will provide everyone with tangible things that you can do to help us build back better and create a more resilient future for the Caribbean. Register now for our webinar on Thursday July 16th, 2020 at 10:00am (EST).