“One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich, both come to poverty.” – Proverbs 22:16
Tourism economic recovery, as we transition the COVID-19 experience, must be tackled by the private and public sectors together.
What better way is there to build a solid foundation for recovery than to adopt a “Systematic and Evolutionary Approach” towards fostering public-private partnerships (1) within a Caribbean country/territory, (2) between Caribbean countries/territories, and (3) between the region and wealthier countries globally?
The private sector, one business after another, drives the system, as the engine of growth, and the public sector lubricates the engine with appropriate policy initiatives, including the creation of an enabling environment and the provision of incentives to facilitate private sector investment.
As the new public health norm is established and Caribbean airports are gradually reopened to commercial traffic and cruise tourism resumes, the future of tourism must focus first on the recovery of existing markets. Then, there is the opportunity to respond to the release of the pent-up demand for travel induced by the COVID-19 shutdown coupled with the previously confirmed expansion of disposable incomes in emerging markets not previously in the traditional catchment area. These are opportunities waiting to happen, and we must prepare for them now.
These opportunities can best be captured by overlaying the concept of an Economic Gearing System (EGS) on the tourism sector in a given country or territory.
The structure of an EGS is depicted by three connected gears of different sizes.
The biggest gear drives the system (brings in tourists by air/sea and from far and wide); the second gear provides the hospitality infrastructure (hotels, restaurants and bars, entertainment, infrastructural revitalization); and the smallest gear generates employment (rooms, food, beverage, attractions, weddings, heritage, performers, education and training, culture, film, gaming, transportation, technology, renewable energy, medicine, tours, concierges, handicraft, farming, sport, communities).
The fast spinning of the biggest gear can build up a phenomenal momentum in the smallest gear thus creating commensurate employment and steady economic growth. If the biggest slows down, as is evidenced by the COVID-19 experience and the impact of devastating hurricanes, then the economy falters.
Innovative enterprise development is an obvious way to jump-start the EGS by encouraging entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs (entrepreneurs within an established business) to set up enterprises with private and public support.
MPE is working on an integrated enterprise development service which (1) helps select entrepreneurs to conceptualize value propositions with potential for growth within the EGS; (2) shepherds these entrepreneurs to avoid obstacles along the path to business success; and (3) financially supports these enterprises with quick response seed, equity and working capital funding from a sustainable growth fund.
This will be the start of the process for the poor to get richer even as the rich get richer which is a prime indicator of economic success. We must monitor the economic output quarterly, say, as the process evolves and take corrective action when the actual performance departs from stated governance, financial security, revenue, growth, and sustainability targets.
Here is a chance for the private sector locally, regionally and globally to step up to the plate and make it happen under the warm embrace of governments.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is a Change-Engine Consultant. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns may be found at www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com/basil-springer-column/ and on www.facebook.com/basilgf).