By Angus Jones

I’ve sat and watched for years because the tourism sector within the Caribbean, specifically the lodging sector, got here below heavy climate from critics, who lashed out at it for being a mono-industry, who questioned its relevance to our Caribbean individuals, and who unleashed a litany of discourses on ‘diversification.’

But, when the climate was heaviest, when the forecast was for a complete shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when the darkish clouds of job loss and financial shutdown lined the land, it was the tourism sector that introduced the sunshine. It was the tourism sector that offered shelter from the rain, and it was the tourism sector that after extra breathed life into economies on life-support.

Destiny itself has intervened and I hope it has wiped the myopia from the eyes of the anti-tourism bunch; I hope it has taught all of us a lesson, that tourism just isn’t one thing to be spurned, it’s one thing we have to embrace. The irony is that whereas there are those that need to use the pandemic to denounce tourism as a ‘weak {industry}’, tourism has confirmed to be probably the most resilient sector, and has bounced again to report numbers very quickly in any respect.

From the IMF downward the tourism sector has been a favorite whipping boy, with the technocrats slamming the transfer to offer incentives that assist the stakeholders make investments and develop – stakeholders by the way in which who not solely present the largest investments, however make use of the best variety of individuals as a result of tourism continues to be, fortuitously, a labour intensive {industry}. The truth is, many are actually pushing the narrative that COVID has offered the chance to divest away from tourism, however divest to what precisely?

Agriculture? Who will devour these merchandise and may any island produce within the portions and high quality wanted for export, and the way do they cope with tariffs on these merchandise. Saint Lucia discovered that lesson the exhausting approach with its banana {industry}. Paradoxically, it’s the inns and native eating places that present the largest marketplace for farmers and fisher-folk in lots of islands.

Or possibly Enterprise Course of Outsourcing (BPOs). But a few of the greatest necessities for issues like call-centers as an example, are tourism stakeholders.

What about IT and Monetary Companies? All good, however how many individuals will they be using, and what in regards to the funding required to get the talents degree of our individuals as much as the place they will command such jobs? Have islands invested sufficiently of their training infrastructure to permit this to occur?

The purpose I’m making is that tourism is the accomplice that may maintain our hand and prepared the ground, not the enemy. Led by courageous governments, and courageous stakeholders, we noticed the true energy of tourism and the large potential it has for the Caribbean in recovering from the pandemic shutdown …it’s one that’s to be constructed upon, not turned away from.

Tourism may also help drive the financial development essential to spend money on key sectors akin to academic infrastructure.

Tourism supplies employment for a large cross-section of our inhabitants; not simply servers and housekeepers because the noisy detractors would have you ever imagine, however for accountants, engineers, cooks, legal professionals, architects, entertainers and landscapers ….every lodge is a mini-city.

Tourism consumes large volumes of native merchandise; greens, fish, meat and eggs …you identify it.

The truth is let me discuss with an article I learn not too long ago within the Magnetic Media on-line information, which quotes the Government Chairman of Sandals Resorts Adam Stewart saying that tourism is the best {industry} within the
world.

Stewart was not too long ago telling members of the Affiliation of Journey Brokers that even when he bought the decision that the world was about to close down, and Sandals must shut its doorways, he didn’t doubt for one minute the resilience of the area or the tourism sector, and by no means purchased into the ‘false narrative’ that tourism was not going to rebound.

He ought to know, Sandals is likely one of the greatest tourism stakeholders within the area, a serious employer, investor, overseas trade earner and shopper of native merchandise. As Stewart recollects his father, the late founding father of Sandals Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, used to all the time say that when God was making the world he spent a little bit extra time on the Caribbean. The area has been ready-made for tourism, and ought to be trying to capitalise on the surge in journey, not shy from it! As Stewart identified, these are thrilling new occasions for journey and tourism, and he mentioned Sandals 2.0 can be main the way in which past the solar, sea and sand expertise and can be looking for to immerse its visitors within the tradition of the islands, to work together extra with the individuals of the islands.

Simply think about the a whole lot of 1000’s of holiday makers who come right here due to tourism and the market that opens up for native businesspersons, artisans and crafts-folk. If you consider it, it’s an export market, with out having to ship something offshore and with no exterior tariffs on their merchandise.

That’s the energy of tourism, and our tourism stakeholders are companions we must always embrace and work alongside. Overlook the diatribe from those that don’t reside in our islands, they view the world via educational lens, we should reside the fact of it, and the fact of it’s that there isn’t any extra lovely, tourism-designed place on the planet!

This visitor column was submitted as a Letter to the Editor

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