BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Tourism in the Caribbean will have a different look going forward as the region tries to bounce back from the effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to industry sources.
Neil Walters, acting secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), said tourism in the region - and the rest of the world - will feature changes as it re-opens to international visitor traffic following following the forced closures caused by the onset of the pandemic.
Walters predicts closer alignment of tourism and health functions as destinations seek to reassure potential visitors that their health, safety and well-being are being taken seriously. He said the virus, in addition to pausing in tourism activity, hurt Caribbean economies and disrupted lives.
Yet it also allowed Caribbean countries to retrain workers across the sector and improve the product.
“But one thing that has become critical is that the tourism that emerges from this pause will be different from the tourism that paused at the end of March,” said Walters while speaking in the final episode of the CTO podcast “COVID-19: The Unwanted Visitor” last month.
“And the key way it will be different is that now tourism will be living and functioning with COVID-19. That means that there will be a significant integration of tourism and health functions across the world – not just in the Caribbean.”
Walters said “although it has been economically impactful, that pause (due to COVID-19) has actually given our destinations the chance to get that new process right, to work on getting it right, and to ensure that they reopen in a way that there’s a level of comfort on all sides.”
He also emphasized the level of collaboration among member countries, saying he hopes this will continue.