Jamaica: Official COVID-19 Tourism Update
For the last few years we have heard much about the disparities and divides between generations—what they want, how they get their information, and how and why they travel. Gen Z takes in information quickly and visually, and are quick to become loyal to destinations, brands or ideas. Millennials’ desire for experiences over things has shaped and fueled the sharing economy. Hard-working Gen Xers focus on family and need rest and relaxation. And despite the disparaging “Okay Boomer” phenomenon, Baby Boomers have doubled down on sharing the legacy of travel with family members and they are more willing to invest in tracing heritage, getting to those “bucket” destinations, and immersing themselves in travel experiences.
But, as we get to the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming weeks and months, we will all have had a shared global experience that is intergenerational. We are now all part of Generation C – the post-COVID generation. GEN-C will be defined by a societal shift in mindset that will change the way that we look at—and do—many things. And in what becomes our “New Normal” economy GEN-C will emerge from our homes. Post-social distancing, we will go back to office and workplaces, and eventually back to a world that will include seeing friends and family, perhaps smaller gatherings; reimagined cultural and sporting events; and eventually to GEN-C travel.
And that return to travel is critical for the global economy. Across the world, travel and tourism account for 11% of the world’s GDP and creates more than 320 Million jobs for workers serving 1.4 Billion travelers annually. And these numbers don’t tell the whole story. They are just part of a connected global economy of which travel and tourism are the lifeblood—sectors from technology, hospitality construction, finance, to agriculture are all interdependent with travel and tourism.
There are still many unanswered questions. What is that new normal? When will we move from crisis to recovery? What form does a post-COVID exit strategy take? What do we need to do before GEN-C will travel again? What technologies, data and protocols will be essential to us as GEN-Cs make us feel safe again?
But even as we are still in a state of social distancing, early data shows that the desire to travel is still there. As humans we crave new experiences and the excitement of travel. Travel adds so much to the rhythm and richness of our lives. So, as GEN-C we need a path forward.
There is no question that tourism is among the sectors hit hardest by this crisis, but it is also at the heart of the recovery. The most resilient economies will be driving the recovery, and travel and tourism will be a multiplier—and an employment engine across all sectors. The global imperative is that we work together across sectors, across regions, to develop a framework that can help solve the global challenge of how to restart the travel and tourism economy.
Jamaica has a unique perspective on resilience—the ability to recover quickly from difficult conditions. As an island nation, we have always had to think about resilience. An island is a paradox in that in many ways it is more vulnerable than other countries—witness Haiti’s devastating earthquake, Puerto Rico’s destruction by Hurricane Maria — but in many ways being an island provides strength and the ability to act with agility.
Last year, working with the University of the West Indies we formed the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Center and we quickly developed sister-centers around the world. This May the center will hold a virtual convening with a panel with experts from around the world who will be sharing ideas and solutions around issues critical to restarting the GEN-C travel and tourism economy. Together we will work to find technology solutions, infrastructure enhancements, training, policy frameworks that are essential to tackling the health and safety, transport, destination and overall approach to tourism resilience.
The new shared global challenge requires shared solutions, and we are committed to finding the way forward. Our entire generation depends on it.