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Don’t blame Covid for regional tourism woes says UWI professor

The region’s tourism challenges have not been created by COVID-19, but have simply been exposed and amplified believes Professor Andrew Spencer, who was recently the first person to be promoted to the position of Professor of Tourism at University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona.

In an interview with the Sunday Business Guardian, Spencer who was appointed on October 13, explained that the problems before the pandemic are the problems today: climate change, social exclusion and high leakage rates.

These, he advised will continue without real structural changes.

“The dominance of sun, sea and sand, multinational corporation exploitation and an accommodations preoccupation must make space for the emergence of forms of organic and socially inclusive offerings and experiences,” Spencer, currently the Deputy Executive Director at the Mona School of Business and Management, said.

Most recently, Spencer served for four years as the executive director of the Tourism Product Development Company Ltd, the agency responsible for the maintenance, development and enhancement of the tourism product in Jamaica, and the largest agency in that country’s Ministry of Tourism.

Zeroing in on T&T, he said this country’s decision not to open its borders for tourism was prudent given its lower dependence on the industry.

He advised that a slow and methodical reopening for this country is best and will allow for proper monitoring of the “stories of success and failure.”

According to Spencer, response rates are improved in such an environment where tourism numbers are not large, uncontrolled and uncontrollable.

“The strengths of Tobago ought to be highlighted with a clear differentiation in what is being offered in Trinidad outside of festival and events. There are community tourism options available in abundance and these must be unearthed,” Spencer further recommended.

Additionally, he noted that countries which have been leading the charge in the region in post-COVID efforts appear to be Barbados and a few Eastern Caribbean states in terms of managing infection rates and opening up of borders.

Jamaica, he also said, has done well with uptick in arrival numbers but not as well with the management of infection rates.

“There is a clear difference, however, with those rates outside of the resilient corridors and inside these managed spaces,” Spencer said.

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Article & Photo from: T&T Guardian

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