Tourism dependent nations in the Caribbean must continue to examine better ways of planning for disasters in the region.
This was underscored by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Shelly Carrington, at the launch of a National Stakeholders Meeting and Regional Monitoring and Evaluation System for Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation in the Caribbean Tourism Sector. It was held today at the Island Inn Hotel.
Conceptualised by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, the US$750,000 project targets some 10 Caribbean islands.
Speaking on behalf of Tourism Minister Richard Sealy, Ms. Carrington told the stakeholders gathered that multi-hazard disaster management considerations must be integrated within the strategic planning process for the tourism sector. She said this was imperative, since Barbados depended heavily on tourism to generate revenue.
She added: "In recent times, the entire world has suffered untold grief, distress, anxiety and suffering caused by an alarming increase in the number of natural and human-induced disasters.
"These events cripple economies, destroy billions of dollars worth of infra-structural development, lay waste millions of acres of crops and farmlands, destroy countless livestock and take millions of human lives."
Furthermore, she explained that the role of the Ministry of Tourism was to coordinate the preparedness, management and recovery of Barbados’ tourism sector in the event of a disaster.
Consequently, the Permanent Secretary stated that the Ministry, in collaboration with industry partners, had established a Tourism Emergency Operations Centre. She explained that it functioned in the same vein as the National Emergency Operations Centre, where persons jointly coordinated the management of disasters, but in a tourism context.
Other initiatives created by the Ministry, she added included:?? the Inter-American and Recreational Facility Security Programme of the Organisation of American States, and the Regional Disaster Risk Management for Sustainable Tourism in the Caribbean.
??However, in spite of the many successes with respect to disaster risk management, Ms. Carrington mentioned that there were a number of challenges, including limited access to funding; inadequate information sharing between agencies,
locally and regionally; reinforcement and buy-in from stakeholders who sometimes become complacent; and insufficient human resource personnel.
The system aims to build a monitoring and evaluation system that will measure the performance of stakeholder nations in building resilience to natural hazards and adapting to climate change in the Caribbean tourism sector.
It will track the success of these measures and determine whether the intended impact is achieved.
Participating countries are Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, The Bahamas, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Anguilla, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin islands.