Pandemics, Disasters, Sustainability, Tourism
An Examination of Impact on and Resilience in Caribbean Small Island Developing States
Table of contents(17 chapters)
Part I The Economic and Social Impacts of Natural Disasters and Pandemics
The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on Jamaica's tourism industry. In an industry already exposed to a multiplicity of challenges ranging from climatic change to globalization, the imposition of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented in both pace and magnitude. Accommodation workers in the tourism industry are particularly vulnerable to these impacts given the travel restrictions and visitor skepticism which prompted the closure of many hotels. Such vulnerability may be compounded by intersections of gender, age, education, and skill set. A recent study by the International Labour Organization (ILO) (2020) indicates that the accommodation sector in Jamaica is dominated by female workers who are likely to be pushed into precarious employment circumstances. This chapter utilized a concurrent triangulation mixed methods approach to explore the experiences and socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 on accommodation workers in Negril, Jamaica, and the strategies deployed to navigate challenging circumstances. The main findings indicated that while most persons were able to retain their jobs, the impacts were tremendous as experienced through decreased workdays and work hours with women being disproportionately affected in comparison to men. These impacts also had significant implications for food and financial security forcing a lot of individuals to rely on limited savings or to budget by prioritizing these needs which were among the coping methods identified. Of great importance within the coping methods was the leveraging of social capital, particularly through family networks which resulted in remittances and other resources to mitigate the impacts posed by the pandemic.
Amid the multitude of economic effects emanating from impositions of COVID-19, workers in the tourism sector are potentially experiencing significant psychosocial impacts. These effects are compounded by the uncertainty of pathways for positive change and the precariousness of adjustments to life and livelihoods. Their attitudes to the newly imposed circumstances are possibly conditioned by a sense of hope which may have implications for their adaptations in the face of sudden or slow change. In this chapter, we argue that one’s sense of hope represents an important component of psychosocial well-being and may even be visualized as a necessary component of adaptation. Hope is conceptualized as a cognitive process that entails thinking and planning in order to achieve proposed goals (Snyder, Irving, & Anderson, 1991; Snyder, Lopez, Shorey, Rand, & Feldman, 2003) and can be operationalized into three core components: goals, pathways, and agency. Based on in-depth interviews and a questionnaire survey administered to former accommodation workers in the Negril tourism industry, this chapter examines expressions of hope(lessness) existing among workers displaced by COVID-19. It potentially provides nuanced understandings of hope as a necessary raw material for adaptation initiatives and explores ways in which a sense of hope could be harnessed in the face of disasters and despair.
In September 2019, The Bahama Islands were hit by a category 5 hurricane Dorian, which stalled over the islands for two days. Dorian's aftermath left an estimated $3.4 billion dollars in damages, lost lives, homes destroyed, and a weakened economy heavily reliant on tourism. As residents worked to restore a sense of normalcy, six months later they were faced with the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic pandemic. Bahamians now had to cope with two major disasters. How to rebuild an economy inclusive of the tourism industry but also how to survive in the COVID-19 environment of lockdowns, wearing masks, social distancing, economic hardships, and employment loss in a still recovering economy. This chapter used an electronic survey to collect data about examining the ways in which Bahamians coped with two natural disasters simultaneously – hurricane Dorian and COVID-19 economically and socially, and how the islanders view The Bahamas moving forward in the face of these events.
According to the UNWTO (2020), tourism is considered one of the world's major economic sectors and accounted for 7% of global trade in 2019. For countries like Jamaica, the tourism sector is a significant provider of jobs and services. The literature chronicles the transformation of the tourism landscape – moving beyond resorts, cruises, and tours to a more culture-centric landscape, embracing authentic and natural environments. Consequently, community-based tourism (CBT) has garnered considerable attention as a fast-growing industry that embraces the special interests of the “new tourists.” Furthermore, CBT has become a significant socioeconomic benefit for inner-city communities. However, the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the sector, impacting the national economy and the livelihoods of informal and formal tourism workers. Additionally, CBT experienced a loss of its primary stakeholders – tourists. Preliminary engagements revealed that the loss of CBT during the pandemic had adverse effects on communities and highlighted the fragility of the current CBT framework to withstand future unknown shocks. Therefore, the sustainability of CBT requires a different approach. This study sought to explore the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 on CBT in rural and urban communities to propose a “fit for purpose” model that can withstand adverse effects of shocks and be replicated across the Caribbean.
Part II Tourism Resilience in Natural Disasters and Pandemics
The rich heritage in the Caribbean in a year-round warm weather environment gives the region an advantage over other regions in the rebound of tourism. The coronavirus pandemic has conditioned travelers to seek safe and healthy methods in their recreation. The region has a wealth of cultural activities, such as Junkanoo in The Bahamas, Kadooment in Barbados, and Carnival in several countries, and tourists can enjoy them outdoors throughout the year. This is not possible in many regions around the world during the colder seasons. Additionally, outdoor historical sites, such as Columbus' landfall in San Salvador Island or the Rolle plantations on Great Exuma island, should be restored and serve as means to attract millions of visitors interested in the world's history and culture. Capitalizing on cultural and historical interest in the region would enhance the marketing of a territory's destination, add to the economic value of the destination, and improve the tourist's experience on the island. While this has been discussed for decades, focusing on historical and cultural tourism is now imperative to the region's tourism rebirth. This renovation and restoration of cultural and historical sites should be financed and managed through public–private partnerships.
The purpose of this chapter is to report on the effects of a natural disaster on the tourism sector of Grand Bahama Island (GBI). This chapter explores the process of tourism destination recovery. Tourism destination recovery has become an important area of study in Small Island Developing States (SIDs). SIDs have been subject to increasing external shocks based on the state of the natural environment including climate change. GBI is the northernmost populated island in The Bahamas and the island has been impacted by several hurricanes within recent times including Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Dorian in 2019. A review of the tourism literature revealed that tourism destination recovery is an underresearched area in the Caribbean. Data were collected from stakeholder interviews to determine the process of tourism destination recovery. Findings revealed the importance to focus on product development, marketing, and coordination aspects of a tourism destination in recovery. This chapter offers a path towards tourism destination recovery by highlighting some of the challenges of the process, with consideration of a recovery framework for tourism destinations.
This chapter proposes the socioeconomic metabolism (SEM) and multilevel perspective (MLP) as “novel” conceptual and practical models that island policy makers can apply to analyzing the transitioning from the current island tourism to sustainable island tourism. Pandemics, such as COVID-19 and climate-related disasters pose risks that highlight a need for restructuring the dominant “sun, sea, and sand” and mass tourism, with excessive resort buildup on the coasts. These crises and disasters constantly disrupt island tourism, exacerbating the already volatile nature of the tourism industry, especially in the Caribbean. Therefore, the SEM which grounds an understanding of how the island system functions, coupled with the MLP that explains sustainability transitions, are proffered as an alternative and systematic approach to restructuring island tourism. In this regard, the models are analyzed for their application to the tourism accommodation subsector. The chapter concludes with the relevance of the models to policy makers and demonstrates how their application can minimize the risks posed by disasters and pandemics to materials and energy flows in the accommodation sector and eventually lead to sustainable island tourism.
Tourism, a critical economic sector for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), is extremely vulnerable to climate change. It has been becoming increasingly evident that strategic planning is essential for the sector to manage future impacts of climate change. This study examines the climate change considerations in the tourism sector of The Bahamas with a specific focus on adaptation policies by exploring the perspectives of key actors. Facing similar climate vulnerabilities as many other SIDS, The Bahamas was chosen because it is a mature tourism destination that provides an avenue for existing policy innovations. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight policy actors from the government, tourism associations, and nongovernmental organizations in the country. The findings revealed that these stakeholders have a good knowledge of climate change. However, planning for tourism and climate change is fragmented, with most climate policies formulated with the scope of mitigation, such as greenhouse gas reduction strategies. In addition, the policy implementation faces many gaps common to SIDS, such as funding and human capacity. At present, the strategic planning for future tourism targets sustainable eco-tourism markets. Based on our findings, we provide recommendations such as leveraging public officials' knowledge of climate change, steering locally relevant adaptation measures, and directing immediate attention toward projects in the pipeline to ensure timely, long-term, and effective planning. The study adds to the current knowledge of climate change in the tourism policy context for The Bahamas with implications for other SIDS.
This chapter examines Pelagic Sargassum seaweed that has been washing up on shores from Mexico to Ghana in record amounts over the last decade. Increase in Sargassum has had a devastating impact on fisheries and tourism including the livelihoods of coastal communities and nearshore ecosystems. This increase has also caused significant health problems due to the exposure of rotting sargassum. Current science informing this increase points to climatic change and ocean eutrophication. Even as the scientific phenomena is studied, there have been numerous management strategies deployed to adapt to heavy seasonal washups, to build resilience in affected sectors and communities and even explore sustainable uses of the seaweed material turned to viable market products. Here, we focus on public management and administration of Sargassum to consider how the micro- and macroimpacts affect our societies including government and private sector responses to seaweed removal and legal, regulatory, and administrative approaches to such “pollution” that highlight process, jurisdictional, and political imperatives. We unpack via the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) lens to raise and uncover several interesting points regarding how we build resilience to environmental change, manage national systems in the face of unclear nature-based phenomena, and approach to equitable sustainable development.
This chapter generally concerns how elements of liberal democratic constitutional discourse have functioned to normalize emergency and possible state of exception governance during the COVID-19 pandemic. More specifically, the chapter focuses on the transference of legislative power to the executive under conditions of emergency rule and how it is possible for delegated emergency lawmaking to operate beyond the limits of what is constitutionally permissible; thus, triggering a state of exception. The chapter uses the deployment emergency rule during the pandemic in The Bahamas as a case study to show how ambivalence and legal uncertainty were the two principal drivers of the normalization process produced by elements of constitutional discourse, and then further explains how constitutionalism, generally, and in its dysfunctional application, can reinforce the processes normalizing emergency and possible state of exception governance.
When it comes to small island developing states (SIDS), the literature is burgeoning with articles on resilience and climate change or resilience as an aftermath to some type of natural disaster. As a singular topic, economic resilience or political resilience has not been as widely discussed. Baldacchino (2014), however, took a close look at sovereign small island states and how they have been able to, among other things, secure their independence following long periods of colonization and exhibit good economic indicators that were and are comparative to those of much larger developing countries (Anklesaria Aiyar, 2008; Armstrong & Read, 1998; Easterly & Kraay, 2000). In his essay, Baldacchino discusses economic development of small island states using a heavy dose of commercialization of resources as the backdrop for sustainable economic development.
This chapter will take a look at what The Bahamas has implemented in the wake of major external shocks that have all but crippled other small economies. The strategies implemented have not only been a stabilizing force but have placed the country well on the road to economic recovery. It is to be noted that while implementation of some of these strategies were not easy or received well by certain factions in the country, politics aside, government officials from across the divide came together to prove once and for all that regardless of individual politics, the strength of the country's economic and political pillars was the best show of resilience as the world looked toward the future.
The chapter explores how tourism creates even more dependence as spaces become gentrified and too expensive for local occupation through colonial tropes, and accumulation models. Tourism consumes gently. In the wake of Hurricanes Irma, Maria, and Dorian, The Bahamas and Puerto Rico have experienced an accelerated strike on their natural and social resources: from land deals and tax concessions to power infrastructure and school closures. Debt has plagued the countries; the policies designed to get them out of debt prior to the natural disasters, then converted into man-made disasters, have only deepened dependence and indebtedness. In fact, both have become externalized communities where land is being accumulated through dispossession. Tourism is more than just hotels and resorts; it is now the gated communities and private islands that build on coloniality and inequalities. Tourism, disaster capitalism, and green grabbing accumulate by dispossessing locals of land in the name of improving their economic health. Economic well being seems to result in loss.
COVID-19 literally stopped the recent unprecedented tourism growth in its tracks with airline groundings, restaurant closures, business suspensions, hotel evacuations, and mandatory travel bans. What has come in the aftermath is a realization that tourism will see shifts in employment styles and function, pricing, customer behaviors, and successful products due to new desires among travelers for alternate tourism experiences that provide authentic, low-density settings while ensuring public health and safety. This is of particular importance to Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) due to their high dependence on tourism for economic stimulation and quality of life. This chapter presents findings from a survey of 30 resort tourism sites across the United States to highlight the impacts of COVID-19 on general operations, employee and customer relations, and coping strategies during the pandemic. Additionally, this chapter draws on other recent COVID-19 research to summarize significant impacts to tourism during the pandemic with a particular focus on how this will impact SIDS. Finally, this chapter presents a series of new navigational aids for SIDS to provide guidance for tourism planning and management among these unique and sensitive island nations.
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