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CALLING ALL COUNTRIES: Global resilience more necessary than ever

Recent hurricanes Fiona and Ian, which devastated parts of the Caribbean and Florida, have reinforced the need to “call the world to come together” to help support sustainability in the travel sector, particularly in the face of devastating disasters both natural and man-made.

At the recent Caribbean Travel Marketplace in Puerto Rico, travel industry leaders including Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association’s (CHTA) President Nicola Madden-Greig, Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) Chairman Kenneth Bryan, and Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett touted a three-day summit to further the cause around the newly declared Global Tourism Resilience Day, Feb. 17, 2023.

However, more than a Caribbean-centric forum, the groups called on the rest of the world – and particularly countries that are highly tourism dependent – to participate and help make Global Tourism Resilience Day a historic and annual observation.

“We can’t have an industry that will survive over time if we don’t the capacity to sustain it,” stated Bartlett, who has spearheaded the initiative and is co-founder of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC).

Global Resilience Day, Bartlett says, is meant to foster a “global appreciation of building resilience to make a quicker recovery (to disruptions)” such earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, monsoons, typhoons, rising sea levels, volcanic eruptions, terror attacks, wildlife degradations, heatwave, drought, food insecurity, epidemic and pandemics, as well as the negative effects of economic downturn and political instability.

“As the Caribbean is well-known to be the most tourism-dependent region on earth, having both CHTA and CTO join the call to support Global Tourism Resilience Day is critical to our efforts to build the sector back stronger,” said Bartlett.

CHTA president Madden-Greig added, “We must now truly harness the power of our knowledge and our human capital and resources to overcome our challenges.”

To that end, Bartlett further proposed support for the establishment of a Global Resilience Fund to help destinations that are recognized as facing high vulnerability to disruptions, both natural and man-made, but have insufficient financial capacity to prepare for and quickly recover from disruptions.

Edmund Bartlett

Both the proposed observance of a Global Tourism Resilience Day and the Fund would be designed to help build a more resilient and sustainable tourism industry worldwide.

Earlier this year, Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council member Laurie Myers explained that the initiative is designed in part to “build the confidence of the traveller,” with the notion that “if the traveller knows that the destination is looking out for them when they arrive and if they know the suppliers are all following preparedness and crisis management, then recovery from any kind of a crisis will be much shorter than in the past.”

“Confidence is the key word – to build consumer confidence and destination assurance, is vital,” agreed Bartlett. “The world relies on us to bounce back faster to stimulate economic recovery. Once the tourism economy is back, the rest of the world economy can follow suit… and no country will be left behind.”

As recent history has shown – whether it be through the pandemic or the aftermath of powerful and more frequent storms such as Hurricane Fiona and Hurricane Ian – the tourism industry is vulnerable to disruptions.

“We are stronger when unified and I support Minister Bartlett’s call to focus on tourism resilience in the Caribbean,” said Kenneth Bryan. “To mitigate the worst-case scenario, we must be proactive and deliberate. This will require support from political leaders in enacting the necessary legislation to adequately prepare for disasters of all types.”

The CTO chairman told Travel Industry Today that he would be delighted to see Canada, and other non-Caribbean countries, take up the Resilience cause, but acknowledged that at first it is likely to be a Caribbean initiative.

“We need to get this bigger, but we can’t wait on the rest of the world to start addressing this, because we (the Caribbean) are affected the most… We want to be in front in respect to preparedness to the trends we are seeing, like global warming and major storms…

“As a matter of fact,” he added, “I suspect that you will hear a lot from the United States after what we’ve seen in Florida (with the recent hurricane). I think that this may have shaken things up for us all to understand that we’re all in this together.”

But he added, “We’re not waiting. We can’t afford to wait another year… We have to start protecting the tourism industry, but also our lives.”

First published at Travel Industry Today

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