Re-booting Tourist Paradises: Challenges Ahead

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Tourist islands are at high risk with the advent of the coronavirus. The paper studies the outcome of 19 tourist islands with a population in the 100,000 and 10 million population range to evaluate the short-term and long-term challenges they are facing. It also gives an overview of research being carried out by the University of Mauritius, in collaboration with the Economic Development Board and the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council on the impact on trade, investment and employment in Mauritius.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the world. While islands are still working to close cases, measures have been taken to prevent the spread and “keeping the lights on”. Islands have a relatively low confirmed COVID-19 death cases. The number of confirmed cases is lower than the number of total cases. The main reason for this is limited testing. The ratio between confirmed deaths and confirmed cases, known as the Case Fatality Ratio (CFR), is relatively low in most island countries. Ireland, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico being the countries with a higher CFR.

In order to keep the economy going, businesses have to start their operations. However, some businesses are more vulnerable to coronavirus infections than others. On the other hand, department stores, banks and general merchandise stores are seen as crucial and should be kept open. Other businesses, such as movie theatres, amusement parks and casinos can remain closed, without necessarily affecting the economy.

Tourist islands depend a lot on travel for their income. However, tourists coming from infected countries can either add value to the economy or can affect the herd immunity adversely. Long-term travellers can prove to be more beneficial to a country’s economy as compared to tourists, who can bring lower value addition to the country.

Several African countries are following the worldwide trend of applying temporary trade measures on the import of medical-related products. With a view to deepen cooperation in the health sector, an earnest start to the implementation of the AfCFTA is highly recommended. This will entail developing a regional supply chain for medical products to alleviate import dependence.