The vacationer trade itself educated Americans to think about the Caribbean as “sun, sand and sea,” and to think about the various islands as interchangeable, Mr. Mignott mentioned. Other than the ocean they share, the islands are completely different, every with a novel geological and human historical past. The older islands to the west, together with Cuba, are fashioned of limestone and billions of shells and skeletons of historical marine life, whereas the black cliffs and crags of the youthful islands alongside the jap edge — the place the Caribbean and the Atlantic tectonic plates grind in opposition to one another — are relics of violent prehistoric volcanic occasions.
In my years exploring the Caribbean, I’ve visited Guadeloupe, Bonaire, St. John, Vieques, Jamaica and Tobago, and met individuals who have in widespread that they had been born with the sound of the ocean of their ears, however in any other case possess distinctive traditions, historical past, language and tradition, that reward guests with a bit of curiosity.
The Caribbean tourism trade might take this chance to distinguish the islands, and perhaps even put accountability on vacationers to transcend the resort partitions or cruise ship all-inclusives and discover native meals and tradition.
Can it occur? As airways and cruise ships cut back capability, and the vacationer trade consolidates, the islands have to act intentionally, mentioned Mr. Riley. “Are we going to leave it to happenstance or are we going to plan for more socially responsible tourism and put policies in place that redress and undo damage to the environment?” he requested.
The premier of the island of Nevis, Mark Brantley, mentioned the pandemic has taught the Caribbean that overreliance on tourism will not be the very best mannequin and that Covid-19 might mark the tip of the period of low cost tourism and mega cruises. “Jurisdictions are going to pivot to more tourism pitched at the luxury market, with smaller numbers of people and arguably a better yield,” he mentioned. Additionally, he predicted that native industries, particularly agriculture and agri-processing, will grow to be extra essential sectors of the Caribbean economies. “Countries will be trying to diversify, where tourism continues to be important, but not the only game in town anymore.”
Mr. Chastanet mentioned that when the pandemic struck, St. Lucia was already halfway right into a nationwide program to advertise what he known as “village tourism,” sprucing up hamlets with new infrastructure and coaching and offering seed cash for resort employees and lodge cooks to open up their very own small-scale, boutique operations. “The things we were doing just got reinforced by Covid,” he mentioned.
“We really hope if one good thing happens from the pandemic, it will be that travel is more thoughtful, and travelers are more conscious about the environment,” mentioned Mr. Mignott, the previous deputy tourism director for Jamaica. “We don’t think people are just going to go back like Covid never happened. We really think it will be different.”