Prior to the Corona virus pandemic, the trends for tourism in the Caribbean were pressing for cheaper and more varied options. There was a pressure to offer visitors prime experiences at a discounted price which often created tension between nature management and conservation within the tourism industry. Tourism is important to the lifeblood of the Caribbean, being a significant economic driver for most islands. This is especially true within the Dutch Caribbean. It is important, however, to remember why tourists visit these islands in the first place; often to take advantage of the pristine nature, crystal clear waters and diverse ecosystems they have to offer. This then begs the question:
How can we design the future of tourism to balance nature, economy and culture in a way that benefits everyone?
Although it’s easy to focus on all the negatives from the ongoing Corona virus pandemic, one positive aspect is that it gives each of the islands a unique opportunity to reevaluate and redesign tourism. As tourism slowly begins to rebuild, it gives the islands the opportunity to maximize the visitor experience through focusing on increasing quality over quantity. Allowing visitors to fully immerse in the culture and natural environment will not only increase the benefits to the island but also to the visitors’ overall experience.
Already, islands are beginning to explore these options. Public forums such as Bonaire’s Future Forum: Opportunity from Crisis on Facebook has given island residents a venue to express concerns and share ideas for the future of the island. It will be this sort of creative thinking that drives these islands into a sustainable and prosperous future.
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