The Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre will launch projects on hurricane resilience and management of sargassum seaweed this week.
A year-long hurricane and seismic resilience assessment project will aim to improve preparation for and recovery from hurricanes and earthquakes after Hurricane Dorian wrecked the island of Abaco in the Bahamas in August and caused a $1.5 billion loss in tourism revenue across the Caribbean.
The second project will track the spread of sargassum, which is linked to ocean warming and agrochemical run off, and study the success of efforts to tackle a problem which has so far cost the Caribbean $120 million in clean-up costs and revenue loss.
The newly established Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre signed off on the projects at a board of governors’ meeting in London ahead of World Travel Market.
Edmund Bartlett, minister of tourism for Jamaica and co-chair of the centre, said: “We are proud to be spearheading projects that will benefit the entire tourism industry and the millions of people who rely on tourism for their livelihood.
“Our new reality is a future of extremes and we must learn to increase the resiliency of our industry.”
The centre will identify the strengths, weaknesses and risks faced by Caribbean tourism, and provide a toolkit for responding to crises and a template for other regions.
Minister Bartlett and Professor Lloyd Waller, executive director of the centre, will speak at the Global Resilience Summit in London on Thursday.
The summit is organised by the Global Travel & Tourism Resilience Council, and the centre and council have agreed to operate together.
Bartlett told Travel Weekly: “We have agreed the Resilience Centre and the Resilience Council will function together under the co-chairmanship of Taleb Rifai and myself.”
Rifai is former secretary general of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
Bartlett said: “The centre will deal with academic research and development, project management, training and education. The council will act as a think tank, dealing with events, conferences and raising awareness.
“We have a number of events planned for 2020 and will collaborate on all of them.” These will include summits in South Africa, Malta and Jamaica.
Bartlett added: “The first of a number of satellite [resilience] centres will open in Nairobi at Kenyatta University in December.”
The centre plans to announce other satellite locations around the world in 2020.
The Resilience Centre was inaugurated in January and will officially open at the turn of the year.
Bartlett said: “We are already undertaking a baseline study of resilience in the Caribbean – looking at the existing level of resilience as a benchmark to measure development and to build capacity.”
He added: “We’re excited about the prospect of further collaboration with global tourism entities.
“It’s critical we stay ahead of disruptions to the industry so we may develop strategies to remain resilient and able to rebound.”