MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA – Building the resilience of small tourism enterprises (STEs) in the Caribbean is fundamental to the region’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and future crises, according to the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and the Organization of American States (OAS).
Speaking ahead of an OAS-sponsored high-level gathering of Caribbean tourism leaders in Montego Bay, Jamaica this week examining business continuity planning to accelerate recovery from disasters, CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig said the viability of STEs is critically important to the region’s rebound from COVID-19 and other potential crises.
Hosted by the Jamaica Ministry of Tourism at Holiday Inn Montego Bay Resort on July 20 and 21, attendees at the OAS gathering will explore how to build the resilience of Caribbean STEs to disasters and will review and respond to the findings and recommendations from more than 500 enterprises and stakeholders to help accelerate business continuity from future crises.
“The challenges to post-disaster business continuity of STEs in the Caribbean are many and varied,” said Madden-Greig, a respected Jamaican hotelier and leader of the regional trade association. “STEs can take more than two years to recover financially from a disaster so we must find ways to help them get back on their feet sooner and with healthy working capital and strong business development possibilities,” she added.
Pablo González, Principal Specialist and Chief of the Risk Management and Adaptation to Climate Change Program of the OAS, said the multilateral institution is looking forward to the high-level forum, the overall expected outcome of which is the enhancement of public and institutional policy for building the resilience of STEs with the ultimate goal of reducing business interruptions.
According to González, research indicates that initiatives such as more targeted STE training, marketing and public relations education, contingency planning and tax incentives were measures that could be taken by both the public and private sectors to help STEs emerge less harmed from disasters and crisis situations.
As STEs recover from the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of crisis communication strategies will also be discussed as will the proposed launching of a Model Post-Disaster ‘Open for Business Guide’ developed by the University of the West Indies, an OAS project partner, to help build STE resilience.
Cabinet ministers and senior tourism officials from more than 50 countries across the Americas will look at ways to forge collaboration among all stakeholders, between public and private entities, and among small and big business.
The virtual and in-person event has also attracted the participation of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO); the University of the West Indies (UWI); the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA); and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Sessions will be held in Spanish and English.