Former Jamaican Minister of Tourism Damion Crawford projects that the recovery of the Caribbean post-coronavirus (COVID-19) will occur mid-2021, with an 80 percent recovery by the end of 2021.
A paper penned by Crawford that looks at the estimated time of recovery for the Caribbean, contends that Caribbean governments must plan for a delayed tourism recovery.
In terms of dependency on tourism for employment, The Bahamas comes in at number five globally and number nine in terms of tourism’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), according to Crawford’s paper.
His paper further contends that Caribbean nations will have to deal with four factors following the COVID-19 threat: the perception of safety of their home destinations; the perception of the safety of host destinations; the intention of people from source markets to travel and the act of people from source markets to travel.
Crawford added that Caribbean recovery means that islands have to return to 80 percent of their pre-COVID-19 market indicators.
But, he said, people will have to be convinced that travel is once again safe.
“It is my opinion that the first hurdle to cross is likely visitors’ perception that their home country is safe,” Crawford said.
“In the Caribbean, this mainly has to do with British, Canadian and American citizens.
“In addition, it is reasonable to assume that these governments will err on the side of caution and by extension, I do not presume that the U.S. state department will lift the level four travel advisory until at least a month after the last reported case. It is also reasonable to assume that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will likely not give an all-clear until a protracted period of no new cases in all 50 states and Washington D.C.
“This is a reason for great concern for the Caribbean, as perceived home safety will likely be attained by the perspective traveler between June and August 1.”
Crawford adds that the Caribbean will likely not achieve a positive “perception of host safety” until all of the Caribbean nations have “successfully fought” COVID-19.
He said it could be in November that travelers begin to look at travel once again, after getting past their “perceived risk in the home and host countries”.
“I agree that almost immediately after the virus abates there will be a desire to travel, but this may not be matched by action,” Crawford said.
“Many factors will impact this, including the financial situation in the home destination; the availability of flights, particularly direct flights; the promotion of staycations; the season and the prices being offered.
“Tourism is perceived as a luxury good. In times of uncertainty, luxury spending is often shelved because consumption is generally replaced by savings.”
Crawford reveals in his paper that international travel will not rebound before 2021.
“Airlines may have to endure another seven months of significantly reduced demand before pent-up demand kicks in by the end of the year,” Crawford says.
“Further, I expect all destinations to be discounted, thereby reducing the drawing power of the discounted price.”
According to Crawford, the Caribbean’s tourism recovery will also be impacted by the source markets’ willingness to choose the Caribbean.
“The global competition for tourism rebound will lead to a further delay of four months between general intent and choosing to visit the Caribbean in particular,” he said.
“Thus by June 1, 2021, it is therefore my opinion that the most likely case scenario for the Caribbean is to see light at the end of the tunnel… en route to the achievement of 80 percent post-COVID-19 numbers by December 2021.”