Special Panel A (SPa)

Human mobility and tourism in the Caribbean in the context of the socioeconomic impact of Covid-19: how are governments coping?


Mimi Sheller, Drexel University, USA

Olivier Dehoorne, Université des Antilles, French West Indies (FWI)

The Caribbean has experienced exponential and diverse forms of tourism growth in the past decades. The global standstill of tourism as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a stall to the main economic source of the region. This has created significant economic and social pressure in the Caribbean. Yet, tourism albeit to the economic benefits of the region, has also been the source of multiple social and environmental problems in the region. In light of the 2017 New Urban Agenda recommendations, good urban planning ought to be at the forefront of governance, together with “job creation, livelihood opportunities, and improved quality of life”. Tourism, as it was practiced before the pandemic, lacked regulation and protection of inhabitants, as many were displaced due to land and real estate pressures for the benefit of the tourism industries. Faced with inflation, they become impoverished, they are sometimes forced to leave their original living space (a seaside with Corralian resources), to live in informal settlements, to survive in the informal economy, often illicit, or emigrate, leaving their island. Caribbean governments are striving to attract tourism back, but how should the islands move forward to boost the so much needed economic development yet protect its peoples and its resources? How should mass tourism, diaspora, cruise, and luxurious tourism be practiced so that economic and urban development is truly sustainable in the region?

Sub Themes:

  • Caribbean issues and the impact of Covid-19 in the region.
  • Inequalities and vulnerabilities, perspectives for building a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable society.
  • Recommendations from the New Urban Agenda for sustainable development to address informal settlements in the Caribbean.
  • The impact in the region’s local economy and urban landscape of mass tourism, diaspora, cruise and luxurious tourism.