The Global Change Research Act of 1990 mandates that the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) deliver a report to Congress and the President no less than every four years that “1) integrates, evaluates, and interprets the findings of the Program…; 2) analyzes the effects of global change on the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems, and biological diversity; and 3) analyzes current trends in global change, both human-induced and natural, and projects major trends for the subsequent 25 to 100 years.”
Volume II, draws on the foundational science described in Volume I, the Climate Science Special Report (CSSR). Volume II focuses on the human welfare, societal, and environmental elements of climate change and variability for 10 regions and 18 national topics, with particular attention paid to observed and projected risks, impacts, consideration of risk reduction, and implications under different mitigation pathways.
Chapter 20 looks at the US Caribbean – Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands – and assesses the possible impact of climate change on those two territories. It is thought that its conclusions can be applied to many countries within the Caribbean as a whole.
Historically, the U.S. Caribbean region has experienced relatively stable seasonal rainfall patterns, moderate annual temperature fluctuations, and a variety of extreme weather events, such as tropical storms, hurricanes, and drought. However, the Caribbean climate is changing and is projected to be increasingly variable as levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increase.
The high percentage of coastal area relative to the total island land area in the U.S. Caribbean means that a large proportion of the region’s people, infrastructure, and economic activity are vulnerable to sea level rise, more frequent intense rainfall events and associated coastal flooding, and saltwater intrusion. High levels of exposure and sensitivity to risk in the U.S. Caribbean region are compounded by a low level of adaptive capacity, due in part to the high costs of mitigation and adaptation measures relative to the region’s gross domestic product, particularly when compared to continental U.S. coastal areas. The limited geographic and economic scale of Caribbean islands means that disruptions from extreme climate-related events, such as droughts and hurricanes, can devastate large portions of local economies and cause widespread damage to crops, water supplies, infrastructure, and other critical resources and services.
The U.S. Caribbean territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) have distinct differences in topography, language, population size, governance, natural and human resources, and economic capacity. However, both are highly dependent on natural and built coastal assets; service-related industries account for more than 60% of the USVI economy. Beaches, affected by sea level rise and erosion, are among the main tourist attractions.
In Puerto Rico, critical infrastructure (for example, drinking water pipelines and pump stations, sanitary pipelines and pump stations, wastewater treatment plants, and power plants) is vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise, storm surge, and flooding.
In the USVI, infrastructure and historical buildings in the inundation zone for sea level rise include the power plants on both St. Thomas and St. Croix; schools; housing communities; the towns of Charlotte Amalie, Christiansted, and Frederiksted; and pipelines for water and sewage.
Climate change will likely result in water shortages due to an overall decrease in annual rainfall, a reduction in ecosystem services, and increased risks for agriculture, human health, wildlife, and socioeconomic development in the U.S. Caribbean. These shortages would result from some locations within the Caribbean experiencing longer dry seasons and shorter, but wetter, wet seasons in the future.
Extended dry seasons are projected to increase fire likelihood.
Excessive rainfall, coupled with poor construction practices, unpaved roads, and steep slopes, can exacerbate erosion rates and have adverse effects on reservoir capacity, water quality, and nearshore marine habitats.
Ocean warming poses a significant threat to the survival of corals and will likely also cause shifts in associated habitats that compose the coral reef ecosystem.
Severe, repeated, or prolonged periods of high temperatures leading to extended coral bleaching can result in colony death.
Ocean acidification also is likely to diminish the structural integrity of coral habitats.
Studies show that major shifts in fisheries distribution and changes to the structure and composition of marine habitats adversely affect food security, shoreline protection, and economies throughout the Caribbean.
Observed sea level rise trends in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands reflect an increase in sea level of about 0.08 inches (2.0 mm) per year for the period 1962–2017 for Puerto Rico and for 1975–2017 for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Projections of sea level rise by 2100 are shown under three different scenarios of Intermediate-Low (1–2 feet), Intermediate (3–4 feet), and Extreme (9–11 feet) sea level rise.
The scenarios depict the range of future sea level rise based on factors such as global greenhouse gas emissions and the loss of glaciers and ice sheets.
In Puerto Rico, the annual number of days with temperatures above 90°F has increased over the last four and a half decades. During that period, stroke and cardiovascular disease, which are influenced by such elevated temperatures, became the primary causes of death. Increases in average temperature and in extreme heat events will likely have detrimental effects on agricultural operations throughout the U.S. Caribbean region. Many farmers in the tropics, including the U.S. Caribbean, are considered small-holding, limited resource farmers and often lack the resources and/or capital to adapt to changing conditions.
Most Caribbean countries and territories share the need to assess risks, enable actions across scales, and assess changes in ecosystems to inform decision-making on habitat protection under a changing climate. U.S. Caribbean islands have the potential to improve adaptation and mitigation actions by fostering stronger collaborations with Caribbean initiatives on climate change and disaster risk reduction.
A new National Tourism Plan for Bermuda was recently unveiled at the Bermuda Tourism Summit detailing the country’s road-map to success for a balanced and growing tourism industry through 2025.
A Bermuda Tourism Authority spokesperson said that a “wide cross-section of the island’s tourism stakeholders was involved to construct the plan,” with more than 150 interviews from a broad group of stakeholders, 400 residents interviewed, 377 residents completed an online survey, 25 working group sessions with stakeholders to get input and feedback and more than 3,500 visitors and non-visitors surveyed as part of the quantitative research.
Success Indicators By 2025
“On behalf of the Government of Bermuda I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to all who have put their hearts and minds into this endeavor,” said Jamahl Simmons, Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.
“Our government believes Bermuda’s greatest asset is its people. That belief underpinned the inclusive approach of the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the Government – embracing the knowledge, wisdom and experience of the country in the creation of a plan that will shape the next phase of Bermuda’s tourism revitalization.”
“This is purposefully designed to be Bermuda’s plan, not the Bermuda Tourism Authority’s plan,” said Paul Telford, BTA Chairman. “The team gathered input from a variety of voices outside of our organization – supporters and detractors – to ensure the plan represents the views of as many people as possible because we know Bermuda needs everyone’s buy-in to make the plan successful.”
“There are six success indicators for Bermuda to achieve during the six years of the plan between 2019 and 2025. Working groups, made up of partners from across Bermuda, will be tasked with keeping things on track.
“The roadmap for achieving the success indicators is made up of strategies and tactics, which are built into the plan using seven pillars. The pillars are represented in an acronym: AGILITY.
BTA Chief Executive Kevin Dallas said: “AGILITY is a very important part of the National Tourism Plan for three reasons: it’s actionable and easy to remember, it shows the collaboration necessary to make the plan successful and it’s a reminder to all of us that we must be agile in the coming years by enabling the change necessary to be more competitive and consumer-centric.”
“A recurring mantra in the plan is an imperative need to focus, given limited resources. On this point the plan is laser-focused on reaching the right people in the right locations for the right reasons. It explains the cities where Bermuda tourism marketing should focus (now and in the future), who the target consumers are and what on-island activities are needed to deliver the quality experiences travelers seek.
“The executive summary of the National Tourism Plan was handed out today to delegates at the Bermuda Tourism Summit. It’s also available on the Bermuda Tourism Authority website. The full report with complete research details will be available online in early November.”
The Executive Summary of the Plan can be found at cloudfront.bernews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/18_NTPBooklet_LOWRES.pdf
FCCA study reveals record Cruise Tourism Expenditures in the Caribbean and Latin America during the 2017-18 Cruise Year
A new study finds that cruise tourism and the 29.6 million passenger and crew onshore visits throughout 36 Caribbean and Latin American destinations directly generated a record $3.36 billion in total expenditures, along with nearly 79,000 jobs paying more than $900 million in wage income, during the 2017 – 2018 cruise year.
The Florida-Caribbean Association (FCCA), the trade group representing the mutual interests of the cruise industry and destinations and stakeholders in the Caribbean and Latin America, is proud to announce that the 2017-2018 cruise year brought record economic contributions to the region, despite the historic hurricane season. According to the study released today by Business Research & Economic Advisors (BREA), Economic Contribution of Cruise Tourism to the Destination Economies, cruise tourism directly generated $3.36 billion in total cruise tourism expenditures--more than six percent higher than the record set by the previous study in 2015--along with nearly 79,000 jobs paying more than $900 million in wage income in the 36 participating destinations.
"We could not be prouder of these results and what they mean for all of our neighbors and partners throughout the Caribbean and Latin America," said Michele Paige, president, FCCA. "Beyond showing what cruise tourism brings to these destinations' economies, which was crucial in restoring lives and communities following last year's historic hurricane season, many of the findings will also serve as the foundation of building further mutual success between cruise lines and destination stakeholders."
The study measured direct spending impacts through passenger surveys and crew surveys; cruise line spending for services and provisions; port revenues; and employment generated by cruise ship calls. Measurement of economic impacts was calculated by collecting data from local government agencies, regional development agencies and international economic agencies to evaluate impacts on employment, wages, port fees and taxes.
Key findings include:
The study's measure of cruise tourism expenditures did not include indirect benefits of cruise tourism, including supplies purchased by tour operators, restaurants and port authorities, though the estimates of these expenditures served as the basis for total employment and wage impacts. The study also did not account for other indirect benefits, such as spending from cruise passengers who return as stay-over guests; nor did the study measure other methods of cruise line spending that benefit destinations, including NGO partnerships and marketing.
Results were skewed by last year's historic hurricane season--with destinations like British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and the United States Virgin Islands seeing declines due to the temporary effects, while still totaling expenditures more than $500 million during the study and now regularly welcoming more than 10,000 cruisers per day due to their remarkable recoveries. Additionally, the temporary impacts led to increases in destinations like Guadeloupe, Martinique and Bonaire. According to the study, all of this showed "further proof that the Caribbean cruise industry is strong, and the member destinations, in all their beauty, continue to be both resilient and successful."
The study--which is engaged by the FCCA in partnership with its destination partners every three years as one of many ways to foster the understanding of cruise tourism, its benefits and how to best actualize its potential--was released at the 25 [th] annual FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show in San Juan, Puerto Rico, further adding to the event's focus on maximizing mutual success for all throughout cruise tourism through a series of meetings, workshops and networking opportunities between destination stakeholders and cruise executives to offer insight and develop business and relationships.
The full study; its Volume II focusing on both the specific spending within the destinations, along with metrics including passenger satisfaction, time spent ashore and types of shore excursions; and similar studies dating back to 2001 are available at www.F-CCA.com/Research.
36 Participating Destinations with Total Cruise Tourism Expenditures (in $US Millions)
Antigua & Barbuda ($77.7); Aruba ($102.7); The Bahamas ($405.8); Barbados ($71.0); Belize ($86.1); Bonaire ($30.2); British Virgin Islands ($12.6); Cayman Islands ($224.5); Colombia ($59.8); Costa Maya, Mexico ($89.5); Costa Rica ($29.2); Cozumel, Mexico ($474.1); Curacao ($71.7); Dominican Republic ($134.7); Ensenada, Mexico ($40.4); Grenada ($19.2); Guadeloupe ($52.9); Guatemala ($11.1); Honduras ($107.4); Jamaica ($244.5); Manzanillo, Mexico ($2.7); Martinique ($38.2); Mazatl�n, Mexico ($15.9); Nicaragua ($5.7); Panama ($77.8); Progreso, Mexico ($32.7); Puerto Chiapas, Mexico ($1.6); Puerto Rico ($151.2); Puerto Vallarta, Mexico ($42.5); St. Kitts & Nevis ($149.3); St. Lucia ($59.4); St. Maarten ($143.2); St. Vincent ($16.4); Trinidad ($3.5); Turks and Caicos ($86.5); and the United States Virgin Islands ($184.7).
About the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA)Created in 1972, the FCCA is a not-for-profit trade organization that provides a forum for discussion on tourism development, ports, safety, security, and other cruise industry issues and builds bilateral relationships with destinations' private and public sectors. By fostering an understanding of the cruise industry and its operating practices, the FCCA works with governments, ports and private sector representatives to maximize cruise passenger, crew and cruise line spending, as well as enhance the destination experience and increase the amount of cruise passengers returning as stay-over visitors. For more information, visit F-CCA.com and @FCCAupdates on Facebook and Twitter.
Airbnb senior management recently met with the Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization to discuss matters of common interest.
AirBNB announced that in 2017 over 1.6 million guests booked accommodation in the Caribbean through the platform, an increase of 117 percent compared to 2016. Hosts set their desired listing price on the platform and pay a 3 percent commission to Airbnb for its platform services, allowing them to pocket 97 percent of the nightly rate. In the Caribbean, a typical host earned $3,700 USD in the last 12 months.
Through collaboration with local stakeholders, Airbnb indicated that it has demonstrated its commitment to support healthy tourism and has signed collaboration or voluntary tax collection agreements with 14 countries in the region.
"Airbnb is deeply committed to the Caribbean and we are proud to take this next step with the CTO to advance our mission of local, authentic, and sustainable travel in the region. The platform helps diversify the tourism sector, attract new travelers, and empower over 50,000 hosts across the region", said Chris Lehane, Head of Global Policy and Public Affairs for Airbnb.
Earlier this year, Airbnb and the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) agreed to launch a destination marketing campaign to highlight the island, in addition to cementing a lodging tax collection agreement. Puerto Rico collaborated with Airbnb on a series of targeted efforts, including the launch of Airbnb’s popular Experiences feature on the island to help drive tourism in the country as it rebuilds following Hurricane Maria.
Airbnb will continue working with Caribbean governments to promote the benefits of visiting the Caribbean to help stimulate inclusive, sustainable tourism throughout the region.
The top Caribbean destinations for Airbnb are:
1. U.S. Virgin Islands
2. Puerto Rico
3. Cayman Islands
4. Antigua and Barbuda
10. St. Lucia
David Jessop – Caribbean Council – November 3 2018
Among the extra-ordinary technological advances that will take place globally over the next decade, the most potent for the Caribbean may be artificial intelligence or AI.
This is because its rapid introduction into almost every commercial aspect of tourism means that it will change fundamentally the relationship between visitors, destinations and profitability.
AI is fast becoming a pervasive business tool for those who sell travel, vacations, and services to visitors.
Through the advanced use of logic, it is enabling industry providers to learn in detail about a client's preferences by taking unstructured data and building predictive models. It does this by monitoring potential visitors daily use of multiple platforms including their internet preferences and their cell phone usage and relating this to all other digitally held information, such as the information many supermarkets hold on the groceries they purchase.
To be clear this is not about robots taking over people's jobs as for the most part tourism remains a people-to-people industry. Rather, it is about the emergence of systems able to undertake a growing number of tasks including reasoning, planning, learning, and problem solving in ways far beyond the capacity of humans to undertake.
What this means is that machines now, and even more so in the next decade, will have the ability to analyse accumulated but previously unused data, enabling almost every aspect of a visitor's thinking to be predicted.
So sophisticated have AI algorithms become that they already enable a seller to follow a traveller from when they first vaguely explore the idea of a vacation, to their activities and location when in-country and what they feel when they return, to then creating a personalised online approach that will cause them to return.
At its most obvious, AI offers multiple commercial benefits.
It makes possible the integration of databases and analytics with globally used platforms such as Google, allowing hotel, airlines and other providers to create a sale and booking experience that anticipates a client's interests and offers bespoke travel solutions. It is a function that is likely to accelerate as AI evolves and adopts conversational voice formats that result in visitors or agents being able to suspend disbelief and 'discuss' on line, preferences and options.
AI enables real time interventions, for example rebooking if a flight is delayed or by enabling a hotel, restaurant or tourist board to advise in-market via a client's cell phone options based on their precise location and preferences.
And, by harnessing and analysing data from valuable market segments and then sub-segments, AI can through social media then offer in a subtle way options for personalised travel and experiences that relate to an individual's lifestyle.
The implications of this for competitiveness and profitability are already well understood by those who own much of the supply side of the industry - the tour operators, the airlines, the cruise ship companies and the big hotel chains - and the information they hold is already being acted on.
However, less clear is whether Caribbean tourism professionals, let alone most Governments understand how this will change the ways visitors select destinations, how it will alter the way properties or tourist boards relate to guests, or the more complex legal and moral issues that location monitoring raises for personal privacy.
While AI will undoubtedly bring short-term commercial gains to the region, these may be rapidly eclipsed by those who hold the technological muscle to obtain and develop data.
Around the world there are now many rapidly developing new forms of AI that tour operators, airlines, cruise lines, financial services companies, hotel chains, and internet platforms are racing to control and integrate.
This rapidly accelerating process suggests that in the longer term the ultimate commercial benefits and the control of the industry will go principally to the largest and wealthiest international players able to develop and integrate data on their own AI platforms.
For this reason, it may be far more important for the industry in the Caribbean and governments to focus more on those aspects of AI that are domestic and inward facing: that is, those that support in-destination efficiencies, national inter-sectoral linkages, training, education, and a better understanding of the impact of varying levels of taxation, so that the local industry, government and citizens can truly benefit from AI.
Local AI use could for example see linkages enabling farmers and fisherfolk to understand daily demand; personalised offerings being made in real time to travellers on their cell phones; nationally or regionally utilisable mobile money system for travellers; and data led understanding by legislators of the impact of the 'sharing economy' and cruise visitor spend.
What is also required is a much better understanding of the wider downside implications.
Forms of AI used for personal profiling are already contentious globally. More significantly perhaps is what real-time tracking of visitors means for personal privacy, let alone how best to relate it to the desire of growing numbers of visitors for authenticity and a genuine experience.
In a people-oriented industry like tourism, AI's unmediated and unregulated use also raises issues about the legality of data ownership, its use and possession. Locally sourced but externally deployed big data will before long require answers as to how such information can be controlled and more important, directed to deliver Caribbean development and the national retention of revenue.
AI's rapid growth also makes clear the need for countrywide 4G cellular networks or better, reliable high-speed broadband, and the pressing need to address the region's woefully poor cyber-security.
The application of AI to Caribbean tourism is likely to be far-reaching and to present challenges to what is still an often conservative, slow to adapt, bottom-line-oriented industry. For this reason, a recent announcement by Jamaica's Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, should be welcomed. It is, he said, his intention that Jamaica should become the leading regional player in adapting to and creating digital solutions of the kind that have begun to transform the tourism industry globally.
AI thoughtfully applied can bring new benefits for the Caribbean. Prudence suggests that there is also the need for careful analysis of how the longer-term downsides might best be addressed.
- David Jessop is a consultant to the Caribbean Council.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.