Region needs support to build disaster resilience– Bartlett

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, addresses the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Global Conference on Tuesday (November 28) at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James. (photo via JIS)
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, addresses the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Global Conference on Tuesday (November 28) at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James. (photo via JIS)

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says it is critical that the region get the necessary support to enable it to effectively prepare, manage and recover from natural disasters.

He noted that resilience against hurricanes, earthquakes and other disasters is important in protecting the tourism product on which the people of the region are so heavily dependent.

He was speaking at the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Global Conference on Tuesday (November 28).

Minister Bartlett noted that the Caribbean is the most tourism-reliant region on earth, with one in five workers directly or indirectly employed by the sector while more than 40 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) is directly related to tourism activities.

In addition, he said, of the 79 countries of the world that have tourism-dependence of 10 per cent and more, the top 13 are within the Caribbean space.

Read more at: Jamaica Information Service

Hurricane season officially ends, but impact lingers

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It is finally over.

According to the calendar of the National Hurricane Center, November 30 marks the official end of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which spawned 17 named storm.

Here in the Caribbean, September was particularly brutal with the passage of two Category 5 monsters, Irma and Maria, which left an unprecedented path of death and destruction.

Countries such as Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Puerto Rico, St. Barts, St. Maarten/Martin and the U.S. Virgin Islands all took direct hits and will take years to recover.

The World Bank said damages and losses, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, in Dominica amount to US$1.3-billion or 224 percent of GDP.

Read more at: Dominica News Online

Climate Action and Trade Governance: Prospects for Tourism and Travel in Small Island Developing States

Damage in Barbuda after Hurricane Irma
Damage in Barbuda after Hurricane Irma

2017 will go down as a landmark year given the huge impact of hurricanes on the economic, social and ecological environments in the wider Caribbean. The decimation of several island territories, such as Dominica, Anguilla, Barbuda, St. Maarten, Turks and Caicos, US and British Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico have taken hundreds of lives and destroyed livelihoods in key sectors like tourism. Take the case of Dominica that had a direct hit from category 5 hurricane Maria on September 18, 2017.1 It is estimated that 35% of the reefs at dive sites in Dominica were damaged, and a month later only 43% of accommodation properties are operational. Hurricane Maria went on to hit Puerto Rico that is now facing a humanitarian crisis.2

The economic losses for the Caribbean are staggering. For instance, the initial estimates from damages by hurricane Irma are larger than the annual GDP of the smaller territories (see figure )3 — about 130% of the GDP for St. Maarten, 250% for St. Martin, 140% for the British Virgin Islands, 37% for Turks and Caicos, 95% for Anguilla, and 15% for Antigua and Barbuda. In contrast, the impact for larger territories like Florida and Cuba are 5.3% and 2.6%, respectively. This data illustrates how vulnerable small island developing states (SIDS) are to the environmental impact of climate change and how quickly these economies can accumulate high debt-to-GDP ratios because of the rebuilding costs from a weather disaster.4

Read more at: OECD Development Matters

Grenada supports Barbados’ call for new vulnerability index

In the wake of the recent hurricane devastation suffered by the Caribbean, Grenada is supporting calls made by Barbados for a new vulnerability index to determine the region’s eligibility for concessional aid.

Grenada Minister of Tourism the Hon. Clarice Modeste-Curwen
Grenada Minister of Tourism the Hon. Clarice Modeste-Curwen

Immediately following the passage of Hurricane Maria last month, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had appealed directly to the international community for such support, saying “we are vulnerable countries in this region, and assessing us on the basis of how our economies are doing at any particular time is misleading because all of our gains can be wiped out in a few hours by a serious hurricane as is now the case with Dominica; as was the case some years ago with Grenada, Jamaica and others.

“Therefore, when we talk about vulnerability and the use of a vulnerability index to determine our eligibility for concessional aid, that is what we are talking about and Hurricane Maria makes the point more eloquently than any of us could have made it,” he said at the time.

In echoing pretty much the same sentiment last night, Grenada’s minister of tourism Clarice Modeste-Curwen told the opening of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference at the Grenada Radisson Hotel that the recent spate of superstorms – including Irma, which wreaked havoc on Anguilla, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands and St Martin -– was proof enough that the threat of global warming is real.

Read more at: Barbados Today