The Caribbean region is one of the most exposed to the pandemic economic shock, due to its dependence on tourism and travel. Nevertheless, Caribbean countries have been largely successful in containing COVID-19 transmissions. After months of restricted movement between countries and within national borders, during this second half of 2020 countries are re-opening and starting to get on with the ‘new normal’ of life with COVID-19. So, what changes might we see to Caribbean tourism?
A new IDB podcast, ‘Tourism in the Caribbean: Stories from the field during COVID-19’, discusses the initiatives being put in place to support tourism organizations, governments, and related actors in the industry. Here are some of the highlights:
- A revamped tourism product grounded in environmental sustainability
IDB Lab, in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization, has launched the Beyond Tourism Innovation Challenge to support innovative technologies aimed at revitalizing the tourism sector in 15 countries in Central America and the Caribbean. Entries close July 31, 2020.
Innovations will be focused on two broad categories:
i) Workforce development with digital skills useful for the recovery phase, including a mix of competencies for product development, marketing and market intelligence, among others.
ii) Environmental sustainability favoring measures to conserve energy, water, and transition to circular economy approaches to reduce natural resource use and utilize climate-smart agricultural innovations and technologies.
Winning proposals may receive IDB Lab financing (non-reimbursable) from US$250,000 to US$500,000 and/or reimbursable financing from US$500,000 to US$2 million.
2. High-quality, authentic Community-Based Tourism experiences
Before the onset of the pandemic, the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility was working with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), to develop a toolkit for community-based tourism that appeals to the digitally-savvy, adventure-seeker by providing easier access to authentic experiences. This toolkit is intended to help the CTO strengthen these offerings, and better market them to potential visitors. Meanwhile, Compete Caribbean will be moving forward with providing technical assistance to six projects from The Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica, Dominica and St. Lucia that were shortlisted in conjunction with the CTO through a Community-Based Tourism Cluster Competition which closed in January 2020.
3. Using technology to reinforce the Caribbean as a ‘safe space’
With COVID-19 impacting many aspects of business, Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility is also seeking to expand the scope of an ongoing regional pilot to enhance the use of technology in both tourism and agro-processing. Areas of interest include more widespread adoption of biosecurity protocols and digitization of services by a range of actors in the tourism industry, as well as using technology to reinforce to potential customers the security measures that have been adopted in their Caribbean destination.
Meanwhile, IDB Lab is in the process of preparing two exciting initiatives within the context of COVID-19. The first is in partnership with the Korean Government to prototype deep-tech collaborations between start-ups developing short-term health solutions and medium- and long-term solutions for economic recovery. Meanwhile, the second initiative seeks to support the resilience of neighborhood stores – a mainstay and essential service provider for thousands of local communities across the region.
Listen to the Improving Caribbean Lives podcast for the full discussion!