Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association Chief Executive Officer and Director Frank Comito revealed that his office flagged a lot of misinformation about The Bahamas on social media in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, which he said highlights the need for countries to effectively manage their messaging in the aftermath of storms that disrupt the tourism engine.
Comito will be a speaker at the Bahamas Business Outlook at Baha Mar next Thursday. He added that The Bahamas did a “great job” with messaging after Dorian, but noted that there was still a lot of misinformation being passed around the internet.
“It’s really important for the traveling public to know and understand the geography of The Bahamas,” said Comito in a press release.
“The ministry and the tourism industry do a great job with getting information out there that is accurate, that educates the public as to the geography and the extent to which a storm or situation may affect one part of The Bahamas but doesn’t necessarily affect the rest of The Bahamas. So all of those kinds of things — effective communication, effective planning — are important and come into play in order to mitigate the extent of the economic impact from situations like Dorian.”
Comito said when it comes to misinformation, countries like The Bahamas must have a plan to counter incorrect messages and disseminate credible information.
“The whole game has changed dramatically because anybody has the power to communicate nowadays effectively and externally,” he said.
“So I think part of the challenge going ahead is, how do we more effectively manage the messaging and the communications without hiding anything? Certainly we want to be candid with what’s going on, but how do we mitigate the impact of incorrect, inaccurate information that can get out there through social media and the damage that that can cause?
“It can do harm to the destination, the people of The Bahamas, as well as government revenues, employment and so on as people perceive externally a situation that may not be reality.”
Comito is expected to speak about the regional and national outlook for tourism and insights about the industry’s disaster response, according to the press statement.
“I’ve been in the trenches and I’ve had to deal with numerous hurricanes and crisis management situations in The Bahamas,” Comito said.
“So with some of that perspective and then coupled with some of the regional work we’ve been doing over the past five years in my role with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, hopefully it can add some value to the insights and discussions that are ongoing to continue to challenge us as destinations and stakeholders to be better and respond to unfortunate situations like Dorian.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, the Caribbean and The Bahamas has a lot of experience in dealing with crisis situations like hurricanes. And we also know that we are incredibly resilient. We tend to bounce back fairly well.”
Comito said past data on storms can give an indication of “how quickly things can bounce back from a tourism point of view after Hurricane Dorian”.
“I will present some benchmark information that will hopefully add some insight, that can give assurances in some ways but also some challenges for the destination in other ways,” he said.