An Inter-American Development Bank report delving into what lies beyond the global pandemic and how countries can best position themselves for a recovery in 2021 and beyond; and for tourism driven Caribbean economies that have reportedly suffered the most at the hands of covid-19’s extreme uncertainties, doing so is crucial.
However, an IDB quarterly report reasons that the Caribbean could either lead or lag the global economy. In the words of Olga Gomez, the IDB’s Tourism Lead Specialist, it is no longer enough to depend on the lure of splendid beaches, but rather tourism destinations need to invest in improving their competitiveness, aligning their tourism products to the broader local and global economic trends and exploring new and traditional emerging market segments such as nature based tourism.
Still, returning to 2019 levels of tourism arrivals and expenditures is going to take time, and the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s updated 2021 forecast has come up with two scenarios – a bounce back in July, resulting in a 66 per cent increase in international arrivals compared to 2020 levels or a potential rebound in September leading to a 22 per cent uptick of the same. In such a case, 2021 arrivals would be some 67 per cent below 2019’s levels.
But, as local experts have long stressed, the real key to recovery is highly dependent on how the pandemic evolves, the vaccine rollout and its effectiveness on new variants.
Additional factors are the perceived uniqueness of the destination, the type and characteristics of the destination’s hospitality ecosystem, the age range and distribution of the destination main market segments, the main distribution channels of the destination and the perceived health and safety of a destination. The IDB reasons that accessibility is also key.
Overall, the IDB doesn’t foresee what’s called a v-shaped recovery occurring. The most likely belief is a recovery timeframe of between 2.5 and four years to return to pre-covid-19 levels of tourism.
The report is part of the IDB’s Caribbean Department’s quarterly bulletin series.