Governments have been called on to agree a co-ordinated global and regional response to the Covid-19 pandemic to protect the future of the tourism sector.
Speaking in the latest in a series of Edmund Bartlett Lectures leading industry academic and industry figures warned against countries becoming isolationist and protectionist.
The online event earlier this month discussed ‘Geopolitics and the Coronavirus’ and was broadcast globally across 28 media platforms reaching a total audience of 80,000 viewers.
Minister Bartlett, the Jamaican minister of tourism, said countries must identify long-term sustainable strategies and resist taking one-dimensional approaches to tackling the pandemic.
“We must promote freedom, new public private partnerships,” he said.
“Today, we have seen the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Tourism is the great equalizer, it enables societies to interact, builds the capacity to tolerate, creates new norms and reinforces the way forward through respect and tolerance.”
Hillary Beckles, vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies said the Caribbean had set an “excellent example” placing science at the centre of its response.
He said this had “unfortunately” been largely overlooked by the global media, and called for the free movement of people, on which the region relies, to be protected.
“We must address the legacies of our vulnerabilities, wherein cultures and peoples are respected, and the free movement of peoples can continue,” he said.
“We are dealing with the relationship between internationalism and nationalism where fundamental decisions are made at the nation state level.
“Tourism is located precisely at the centre of a contest, a contest between how a nation seeks to handle policy decisions within the context of an industry that is deeply local but realising that success can only come at the global level.”
Hillary added that in tacking Covid-19, climate change and chronic disease, multilateral and not bilateral, solutions are required.
“A multidimensional approach is needed for the tourism sector which is deeply globalised,” he added.
“Tourism is at the intersection between the politics of globalisation and the economics of nationalism.
“Seeing that the travel model is under enormous stress, we must commit to a multidimensional model where we allow tourism to thrive in a post Covid-19 environment.
“We will have to speak about innovation, to change to a multidimensional model centred around world peace, world freedom, new tourism products and new access to value to allow this industry to have its greatest impact.”