The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) urged its stakeholders to take advantage of coronavirus (COVID-19) resources it has set up to contain the spread of the virus in the region, and reminded the world of the Caribbean tourism sector’s proven ability to strongly bounce back from adversity.
Recalling the association’s experience in dealing with emergencies, CHTA’s CEO and Director General Frank Comito, and Patricia Affonso-Dass, President of CHTA, reported that immediately upon understanding the potential threat of COVID-19 in January, the association reached out to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to begin to put in place monitoring, education and awareness initiatives. The association also advanced and implemented measures to ensure the safety of its employees.
In a joint statement, Comito and Affonso-Dass pointed to online resources available to help the industry manage the crisis. Many of these, along with updates on travel advisories, airline and hotel cancellations, and other notices can be found at the CHTA COVID-19 Resource Center at www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com/covid-19.
They reminded that the Caribbean tourism sector has considerable experience in managing disruptions and risks: “We demonstrated this post 9-11, through SARS, Zika, hurricanes and other natural disasters over the past two decades, all while experiencing unprecedented growth.”
The organisation’s leaders admitted, however, that nothing compares to what the region and the world are experiencing with the coronavirus threat, and while much of what happens is beyond individual control, through sound collective actions by companies, organisations, communities and governments, the duration and intensity of the pandemic can be managed. “Difficult decisions which are made today will help us to recover sooner and ultimately be stronger,” they asserted.
Despite the severity of the pandemic, Comito and Affonso-Dass predicted the region will emerge and use lessons learned to make the region even more desirable: “Despite the temporary dark clouds, the sun shines in the Caribbean and will continue to do so. As we come through this, the world will need the Caribbean to help it to heal.”
To the millions of individuals with fond memories of time spent in the region, the tourism leaders noted the region will be ready to welcome them back soon: “A trip to the Caribbean, with over 30 incredible and diverse destinations, is one of the best remedies for wiping away stress and anxiety – refreshing, renewing and warming your heart and soul in the process.”