Jamaica; September 10, 2020: Chairman of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre, Edmund Bartlett says that beyond the negative economic impact, the COVID-19 pandemic has also presented a range of political, geographical, and cultural implications across the globe.
“Noticeably, the on-going pandemic has reinforced the power of the state in its traditional role as protector of society, as governments globally have been at the forefront of coordinating responses, surveillance and monitoring, and organizing economic relief efforts within and across borders,” said Mr. Bartlett.
He added that: “Appropriately described as the great equalizer, the pandemic has spared no one as we have seen some of the more traditional global powers being stretched to their limits while, ironically, some of the smaller countries have been able to manage the spread of the pandemic with greater efficiency.”
Mr Bartlett also underscored that policymakers have been faced with very difficult decisions due to the pandemic. “It has been virtually impossible for many global leaders to escape the ambivalent political impact of their policy responses to the pandemic. This is because key policy decisions have become increasingly subjected to multiple competing interests, which must be delicately balanced against each other,” he expressed.
He was speaking at the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre’s (GTRCMC) third virtual Edmund Bartlett Lecture Series, hosted under the theme, ‘Geopolitics and the Coronavirus: Implications for Global Travel and Tourism,’ on Wednesday, September 9.
The event, which was streamed by over 3,000 people around the world, brought together local and international stakeholders sharing best practices and case studies in tourism pandemic and economic resilience management, to develop long-term policy and strategic solutions.
Speakers included Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies; Ambassador Dho Young-shim, Chairperson, United Nations SDGS Advocate Alumni; Professor Lee Miles, Professor of Crisis and Disaster Management at Bournemouth University; Professor James Kungu, GTRCMC Director, Eastern Africa; and Dr. Taleb Rifai, GTRCMC Acting Chair.
Following their presentations, speakers engaged in discussions on: how the geopolitical developments in major source markets affect the recovery of international tourism; the factors that will shape destination attractiveness and tourist preferences in the post-COVID-19 era and what the future of tourism will look like for regions such as the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
While commending Bartlett on his handling of the impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry in Jamaica, Professor Beckles called for a global tourism summit to aid in the recovery process.
“My suggestion is that this is the time to go beyond bi-laterals… We have to move towards a multi-lateral engagement. We need a global tourism summit based on the foundation that only multilateralism can lay the foundation for effective recovery of this sector, where heads of governments are prepared to sit to discuss geopolitics and the fact that there will be no economic growth without the growth of the tourism sector.
We can do this on a hemispheric basis, even as we build the blocks for that global summit, where a policy dialogue can take place around the fundamental issues,” said Beckles.
He also shared that he is pleased that the Caribbean has been able to very scientifically approach the management of COVID-19 containment and has achieved very significant and impressive results.
“The Caribbean has been in the top echelon of that containment success but we have not seen in the global media, the use of the Caribbean as a model [or] the use of the Caribbean as one of the successes in this journey,” said Beckles.
The GTRCMC, based at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, is tasked with creating, producing and generating toolkits, guidelines and policies to handle the recovery process following a disaster. The Centre will also assist with preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions and/or crises that impact tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods worldwide.