Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett is calling on regional tourism leaders to meet to discuss the impact of the La Soufriere volcanic explosion in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the Caribbean tourism sector.
“A disruption of this magnitude calls for an urgent discussion with regional tourism leaders to examine the implications for Caribbean tourism given the negative impact this is having on lives, livelihoods and ultimately tourism,” said Bartlett.
Thousands of residents have been evacuated since last week Friday when the volcano began erupting. Emergency officials have described the landscape as a “battle zone” and said more damage and destruction are likely.
“In my capacity as Chair of the high-level Organization of American States Working Group, I have been in touch with the United Nations World Tourism Organization and the World Travel and Tourism Council regarding short to medium-term mitigation.
“We are also in the process of mobilizing support for SVG through our international network tourism resilience partners,” Bartlett said.
Support has been pouring in for St. Vincent and the Grenadines as families continue to manage the post volcanic effects. Homes across the island, which has a population of around 110,000, have been covered in white-colored volcanic dust and rock fragments. The ash has also affected life in neighboring islands, most notably Barbados, St. Lucia and Grenada.
“The time to act is now to plan the way forward including resilience building to recover stronger and thrive, and this is where the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre is able to assist,” Bartlett said.
Executive Director of the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre, Professor Lloyd Waller, also said, “these disruptions are not new and seem to be occurring more rapidly with greater devastating effects.
“We need to collaborate on the way forward especially as a heavily tourism-dependent region,” he added.