The COVID-19 pandemic caused a sharp decline in mobility, causing a major slump in tourism. Highly dependent on the tourism industry, SIDS suffered and experienced an economic downturn. Recovery strategies and clear-cut plans to build forward better are already in the works. To help evaluate tourism policies, the authors of this paper tested possible recovery strategies by exploring the concept of risk perception as an important factor in influencing behavior. Using the Maldives as an example, four strategies are presented and tested in the model: (1) social distancing, (2) tax reduction strategy, (3) travel bubble strategy, and (4) joint strategy. Among these four strategies, it was found that the travel bubble strategy is the most effective way to change tourists' behavior. Now, what does this entail? Pursuing a travel bubble strategy means building bilateral travel bubbles or so-called green corridors. These are exclusive, state-level agreements between two or more countries to allow inbound tourists. For example, a two-way travel bubble between New Zealand and the Cook Islands has been established recently. While this is a good way to jumpstart the economy of tourism-dependent SIDS, it is important to explore the possible disadvantages such as the increase of variants of COVID-19 or discrimination against those who cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons. Finally, the results of the report also indicate, as discussed previously in the bulletin, that the reduction in tourism arrivals may bring opportunities for local ecosystem recovery. Tourism remains to be one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic. That is why jumpstarting it requires strengthened cooperation and inclusive strategies. In the Eastern Caribbean, 10 countries have been engaging in the “FUT-Tourism: Rethinking Tourism and MSMEs in times of COVID-19” project with the support of UNDP to support governments, national institutions, and the private sector (including MSMEs) to quickly adapt to the new demands of tourism. The initiative is currently conducting FUT-Tourism Regional Dialogues and an e-discussion to discuss approaches in shaping the future of tourism in the regions. 

 

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