A new study found that additional sources of funding must be established to help Caribbean tourism withstand future crises.
In its recommendations, the new report on the effects of COVID-19 on national destination management and marketing organizations in member countries of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and their early responses to the global pandemic, conducted by the George Washington University International Institute of Tourism Studies (GW IITS) and the CTO.
It found that COVID-19 affected the financial health of the tourism organizations, with nearly of all of those polled either had, or expected, cuts to their operating budgets.
And it stated: “This is an ominous signal.”
The report called for advocacy on behalf of the destination organizations for financial support in order to remain strong and help to lead tourism’s recovery and rebuilding efforts.
It also said these entities would have to find creative ways to do more with less, especially with regards to marketing.
“Moving forward, destination organizations will need to consider how to diversify their funding sources, which are mainly based on lodging and cruise taxes, to ensure that they can withstand future COVID-19 waves and future shocks to the tourism industry,” the report recommended.
At the same time, it said the tourism bodies needed to remain vigilant and advocate for continued support to tourism businesses if these businesses are to survive.
And it noted that: “Without sustained financial assistance, tourism businesses that are operating at less than full capacity will be challenged to remain in business through 2020.”
Beyond funding, the report also stressed the need for effective crisis management and communications among the immediate steps needed to recover from the economic fallout of COVID-19 and its impact on tourism.
Seleni Matus, GW IITS’ executive director pointed out that: “It’s essential that destination organizations act now to work with local governments and businesses to find ways to create public and private partnerships that will benefit all parties involved, from hotels, tour operators and restaurants to local residents and tourists—immediate investment is urgently needed.”
Forty-three countries in the greater Caribbean, including CTO’s 24 member countries, were included in this component of the research.