“For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.” - Luke 12:23
By Dr. Basil Springer
On July 20, 2020, Howard Schneider penned an article entitled “When the U.S. sneezes, the world catches a cold. What happens when it has severe COVID-19?”. That was nearly four months ago!
There is now uncertainty not only of the timing of the advent of an effective vaccination program but also about the resolution of an unprecedented U.S. political leadership crisis, both of which negatively impact the management of the pandemic. What are the prospects of a decline in the disastrously escalating U.S. COVID-19 position in the next four months, say?
The Caribbean is one of the most tourism dependent regions of the world and the U.S. is our main supply market (source of tourists). Some Caribbean airports remain closed to American travelers and those which are open are subject to the strict observance of public health protocols in the form of COVID-19 testing, and travel screening portal and quarantine requirements. When will the Caribbean tourism industry fully open its doors again and how can we best prepare for this recovery?
Over the last six weeks, in this column, we have recognized that when the airports reopen the standard bearer’s banner “Tourism is Our Key” will be in the vanguard of our COVID-19 transition recovery march. We have addressed the topics: (1) Tourism: We are all in this together; (2) Tourism: Economic Gearing System; (3) Tourism: Agricultural linkages; (4) Tourism: Technology it is time to Pivot; (5) Underexploited tourism opportunities; and (6) Tourism: The balance between cruises and hotels.
We should continually remind ourselves that the Caribbean is a diverse multicultural, multiethnic, multireligious, multiculinary, multigenre (musical), multilingual and multitalented region, officially made up of an archipelago of islands and selected mainland emerging territories nestled between North and South America, with Central America in the West and the Atlantic Ocean in the East. The Caribbean Sea is our backyard, and accessible to those with excess disposable income from all parts of the world. Let us prepare ourselves to unleash our talent in support of the development of the Caribbean brand.
In today’s column, (7) Tourism: Cultural linkages, we recognize that the ‘classical’ cultural industries include architecture, broadcast media, carnival, crafts, fashion, film, galleries, graphic design, literature, museums, music of all genres, publishing, social media, spoken word, theatre, and visual art.
Our people are our biggest asset, we must develop them to the fullest. The core of our cultural industries' potential is embedded within our people.
We need to create more online talent platforms and embrace digital download and streaming technology to share our talent with the world.
A business approach is needed to sustainably implement these opportunities. Marketplace Excellence’s emerging states enterprise development service is a proposed modality because it comprehensively addresses the main constraints to progress - the selection of the best entrepreneurs and scalable projects, shepherding entrepreneurs on the journey to business success, and supporting the entrepreneur with quick response seed/equity/working capital or other sources of funding.
We cannot continue to hide our light under a bushel, but instead we should illuminate the artistic genius of the region to the world.
Tourism cultural linkages is a major potential driver of the COVID-19 recovery transition and growth process, and can help increase the consumption of goods and services that can be sourced locally. The exploitation of these linkages will also create employment while enhancing the region’s foreign exchange earning potential. The future is in our hands.