The vulnerability of the Caribbean region to natural disasters, such as, hurricanes is well established. Many, if not most, of the islands of the Caribbean are reliant upon tourism as their major source of income and foreign exchange. How do hurricanes affect visitor perceptions of the Caribbean as a tourist destination? What can be done to influence perceptions and to educate potential tourists on the effect of hurricanes on the Caribbean region?
The Caribbean is a diverse region of more than 33 island nations, some of which are outside the hurricane belt and were not affected by the disastrous hurricanes of 2017, Irma and Maria. Islands south of the hurricane belt and not affected by these storms still had cancellations of bookings and loss of revenue. It seems the perception of the effect of the storms was generalized to the Caribbean as a whole. This perception could be mitigated by marketing efforts aimed at communicating the geographies not affected by the storm, letting tourists know that their destination was unaffected and to come and enjoy.
Some other islands were impacted, catastrophically, and are recovering and rebuilding. Here is where we can make a positive impact on the long term perceptions of the Caribbean as a safe and reliable tourist destination. The hardest hit places in the Leeward and Virgin Islands are on a longer term rebuilding trajectory. Dominica, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten / St. Martin, St. Barths, St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix, Tortola and the Turks and Caicos Islands need to rebuild much of their tourist infrastructure. Some hotels have closed for repairs until next year and cruise lines have altered their itineraries to other ports of call for the next few months at least.
The importance of a committed supply chain partner is essential to the rebuilding of hotels and other infrastructure on the islands, as well as, to the visitor perception of a resilient destination ready to overcome setbacks and rebuild to ever higher standards. When life-sustaining supplies are delivered to the islands in the immediate aftermath of a storm, employees, workers and other businesses are able to get up and running; hotels re-open sooner and visitors return. When hotels resupply and reopen quickly, the visitor experience is quickly reassured.
How can this be achieved? Having a disaster preparedness plan and a business continuity plan in place is of utmost importance to hoteliers in the Caribbean region. A committed supply chain partner is a central piece of the plan. To build resilience, learn more about disaster preparedness and how to rebuild better and stronger visit our website tropical.com
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