Covid impacting tourism and the local economy
30 June 2021
The value of local tourism, by its absence, demonstrates how real it is to Local Economic Development, as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is felt in local seaside communities in the Caribbean.
Without visitors, these small and micro businesses have no customers to patronise their food stalls, village bars, and beach-chair businesses. That means no employment for village cooks to convert granny’s recipes to cash; no work for bartenders and vendors selling coconuts and chilled drinks; no opportunity to eke out a living, wiping tables and cleaning up after the guests; no-one to buy beach-wraps, sunscreen and trinkets; no-one to serenade for a tip; no passengers for drivers to make pit stops to buy fruits and delicacies; and fishermen have less customers for their fresh catch.
Value of LED to local communiities
So what does Local Economic Development mean to communities and their small and micro entrepreneurs? It is a process of converting goods, talents and services for self-employment and hiring help. It is about cash circulating in communities to support livelihoods – enabling people to afford food, clothes, shelter, utilities and to send their children to school, or … in these COVID times, to afford an electronic device and internet access. Local Economic Development is about the quality of life and community well-being. That is the business of Local Government.
Mapping a way forward for small states
The Commonwealth Secretariat’s publication Tourism and Covid-19: Mapping a Way Forward for Small States notes that “about half of all tourists choose coastal destinations, and therefore marine and coastal tourism provides SIDS with more than half of their national income.” Transposed into macro-economics, owing to the decline in tourism, Caribbean GDP declined by $US26.4 billion and 1.2 million jobs were lost, according to the publication.
Putting on our gender lenses, we would recognise that women are really taking a hit. Since the majority of workers providing food and accommodation services are women, the loss of jobs would have an un-fathomable impact on their economic independence and quality of life, both for themselves and their families. In many cases, a woman’s earnings make the difference in the quality of life of Caribbean families: in stepping out of poverty … continuously stepping up.
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