Emphasizing the Significance of Collaboration: Caribbean Tourism Stakeholders

Just three weeks into the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season, forecasters indicate three tropical storms have formed off of its shores already, signalling an early and aggressive start for 2023’s annual hurricane season.

With that as their backdrop, key stakeholders of the region gathered last week and one key takeaway from this virtual forum event was that effective crisis communications are essential when responding to and recovering from both natural disasters and manmade ones.

“Communication plays an essential role in managing crises, shaping perceptions and creating trust while disseminating accurate and timely information to both internal and external audiences during times of distress… which can mean the difference between chaos and order; despair and hope”, Neil Walters, acting Secretary General of the intergovernmental Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), informed forum attendees.

Forum Co-hosted by Caribbean Tourism Organization and Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.

Collaboration across regional, national and community levels and proactivity communications will be of critical importance to successful crisis management and resilience for Caribbean tourism industry not just during this season but in years to come. The forum members agreed that successful crisis management is vitally important.

Preparedness Extends Beyond Hurricanes
Hurricanes weren’t the only disaster affecting this region – global COVID-19 pandemic also featured prominently at this forum’s discussions.
Madden-Greig noted the COVID-19 pandemic as being “one of the world’s worst health crises of recent memory” and noted how collaboration between CTO and CHTA on disaster preparedness has proven indispensable to meeting challenges within Caribbean tourism sector.

Effective collaboration requires effective communications; and, given our current age of instantaneous reporting through various channels – with anyone with access to cell phones and the internet quickly informing on the status of a crisis with little regard for accuracy – Madden-Greig stated. Therefore it’s crucial that sound plans be put in place so we are providing information which best reflects what’s actually occurring on the ground.”

Bevan Springer, President of Marketplace Excellence (MPE), who moderated this session. Press releases and updates should also be timely and accurate in terms of any disaster preparation and response efforts, he asserted.

Springer stated it is crucial that narratives reflect Caribbean perspectives in order to establish future agendas of these destinations.

Springer noted: “Every crisis strengthens us for future ones; learning from one crisis to the next is invaluable,” according to Springer.

Springer is also founder and president of Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx), where she suggested devising post-crisis marketing plans in response to disasters, similar to what MPE and U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism implemented following Irmaria storms in 2017. According to Springer, their efforts put back Virgin Islands tourism “back on the map and into the marketplace”, working closely with airlines, travel advisors, and other strategic partners in partnership.

This virtual tourism forum, focused on Crisis Communications and Best Practices for Hazard Response and Recovery, was the second of a joint event by CTO and CHTA that addressed disaster preparedness for tourism sector businesses. These gatherings form part of their overall efforts to help strengthen disaster preparedness strategies across their sectors.

Caribbean islands renowned for their sublime climate, nature and culture have witnessed tremendous post-pandemic expansion. Many new hotels and resorts opened for business over summer 2018, as well as increased flight connectivity.






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