3 ideas to revive Caribbean tourism during the Covid-19 crisis

French version here

We are the Whistle
8 min readMay 15, 2020


As quarantine worldwide is slowly coming to an end, now is the time to denote the first damages, but the first opportunities to kick-off the Caribbean touristic activities above all.

Tourism is a major player in the Caribbean: 80% of the British virgin islands GNP (Gross National Product), 64% for Saint-Lucia.

The Caribbean population has therefore been tremendously impacted by a straight stop from the touristic flux. It is urgent to imagine a revival of these activities taking into account a long lasting health crisis. The latter will very certainly leave a significant trace in our ways of traveling, of enjoying stays, of anticipating risks (repatriation, presence of care structure, and more).

As a Caribbean innovation structure, we took a 5 days dive into the daily life of Caribbean tourism actors and brought to light many of the problematics unveiled by the health crisis, thinking and shaping 3 initiatives you will be able to discover, comment, support, clap and share.

🔍 Reaching out to the Caribbean tourism actors

In order to refine our understanding of the current and upcoming problematics derived from the crisis, it seemed essential to us meet up different actors of the sector. From the car rental business owner to the cargo pilot and the AirBnb host, the whole chain is impacted; the english speaking islands as much as the french, spanish and dutch speaking ones.

Hereby are few learnings collected from 30 interviewed actors :

1. A stagnant blur over the airlines and banking public relations, in addition to administratives task piling up

I fight to not lose too much financially, but also to limit the impact it has on my clients, in particular for the regular ones. ” — Victor, host and car renter, Guadeloupe

Facing the brutal absence of revenue is the immediate challenge of the tourism actors. In fact, charges (water, electricity) keep on coming, just as maintenance costs. Looking for solutions to delay various payment processes is a daily struggle. In addition, communication have not always been easy when it was about insuring the repatriation of certain clients to their home country, helping them to cancel or postpone their stay for next season. Relations with banks, insurance and airline companies has so far been a tough process to go through.

2. Online platforms for renting and hosting private accommodations (AirBnb, Booking, etc) are often not enough to manage the crisis

Have to try to use the social media and online platforms and reposition my business.” — Eddy, kayaks renter, Aruba

In 2019, nearly half of the reservations in the Caribbean were private accommodations. Despite the fact popular platforms such as AirBnb or Booking seriously insured mediator role in the cancellation and crisis communication, the lack of online presence hits many actors. A feeling of missing an opportunity to improve on their communication and lasting trust building with their customers emerges.

3. The challenge of reassuring clients and adapting touristic practices

We must prepare for establishing a protocol of sanitary measures…We must communicate to our future clients on these measures and on the sanitary situation of the island” — Frédérique & Bruno, hosts, Guadeloupe

Post-crisis communication will play a key role in reviving the activity. More than ever, actors will have to bring their customers to relearn to enjoy a place, a region such as the Caribbean, including new constraints and requirements from these exact same customers.

4. Certain actors are ready to start from scratch and fully reinvent their business

The crisis impact brought me the feeling to start everything over.” — Annie, host, Anguilla

Difficulties related to the current crisis bring deeper questionings among the tourism entrepreneurs. The impact on their business has been so strong that it sparked an introspection on the meaning and purpose of their activity.

🎯 We built strong convictions

From our exchanges with the Caribbean tourism actors, as well as our personal and professional experiences, we built strong convictions before to generate the following concepts.

Conviction 1 : Digitalization have a main role to play in the next steps of the touristic economy upsurge

Conviction 2 : Communication and solutions to propose will be proactive, positive, reassuring for the actors as much as for the clients

Conviction 3 : It is necessary to rethink the touristic economy over several timings : the emergency (right now), the gradual recovery (after 2–3 months) and time for change (lasting change)

Conviction 4 : The presented solutions must be sustainable for the tourism actors, relevant in case of an upcoming crisis (sanitary, social)

Conviction 5 : Listening tourism actors over time, but also the tourist needs will be as important as the solutions to bring.

We then processed information and shaped ideas in accordance with the multiple crisis stages

💡Idea 1 : Get trained in communicating about hygiene

+ 2 months after the quarantine ends

What is the issue to address?
Tourism actors need to reassure their current and potential customers that they will create optimal conditions for a safe stay.

More than ever, the tourism actors will benefit from letting their audience and customers know that “being clean” is part of their know hows. Beyond all marketing tactics, Hygiene Branding seems to be a key process in which actors will need education and tools to support. A typical question might be: how will we make sure our customers feel that we are on point regarding hygiene, without spamming them and making them feel sprayed on?

Why is it so important at this moment?
Tourism is by far the main sector in the Caribbean. Everyone is impacted. The credibility of tourism actors will tremendously rely on hygiene, to build trust with their audience and customers.

It is also now the right timing to get prepared in case of a future pandemic crisis.

What do we propose?
An online course on hygiene-oriented Branding included in a tool allowing, at a second stage, the tourism actors to launch “Care” campaigns on their diverse social media. It helps the actors brand or rebrand in accordance to the new norms and perceptions of travelers.

Examples of courses:

• Inquire your audience qualitatively to ask them what they care about

• Adjusting vision and mission

• Wording & Tone, IRL and in social media

• Involve my close by (surrounding) community

• Anticipate future pandemic crisis

Which key actors can facilitate the activation of such plan?
Very simple about ten actors from diverse services in order to launch a pilot project. More specifically, a contribution from local producers of natural products, as much for body care than for surfaces sanitizing.

💡Idea 2 : Tailor-made traveling, in the most optimal sanitary conditions

+ 6 months after the quarantine ends

What is the issue to address?
In the context of a health crisis we do not control neither in its duration nor its amplitude, it is primordial to be able to reassure the customers about the new measures taken, and to proof one can enjoy holidays while reinventing certain traveling practices.

Why is it so important at this moment?
Tourism being a pillar in the Caribbean economy, it is now a great timing to rethink it from the crisis context in order to learn the lessons early on and propel it.

What do we propose?
An interactive map to create treks answering one’s sanitary requirements when choosing a destination, or to verify the health requirements of a journey already planned. Thanks to an hygiene indicator updated by travelers themselves, any new comer will be able to recommend or be recommended various sights within few seconds.

Which key actors can facilitate the activation of such plan?
Existing structures such as the Caribbean Tourism Organization and local tour operators can contribute to promote sights that are putting an emphasis on applying hygienic norms. In addition to these structures, what if platforms such as Google Maps, Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, Evaneos, Voyageurs Du Monde Tours and Airbnb Citizen, among others, could contribute in developing a plug in serving this purpose?

💡Idea 3 : Unite around rethinking tourism, activate talents

+1 year after the quarantine ends

What is the issue to address?
Tourism actors regret not benefit from an online presence (besides airbnb or booking) to communicate with their clients. It’s an opportunity for these actors to avoid too many manual tasks and boost their client’s trust in their business, as well as their ability to offer the best stay conditions

Why is it so important at this moment?
In order to relaunch tourism activity and look attractive again, reassurance communication will be key. That’s also the opportunity to overcome digital borders for the digital world newbies.

What do we propose?
We suggest a “service swap” platform where a tourism actor can offer free activites or services against some help to grow his digital environment (marketing campaigns, e-commerce website, visual identity, etc.).

That’s a good way for them to enjoy our best caribbean talents all over the world, and a nice opportunity for the latter to contribute the digital development of their region, earning dream short stays and activities.

Which key actors can facilitate the activation of such plan?
What if this project was supported by talents from the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Airbnb Citizen or Jeunesse OutreMer for instance?

👍 Insure a long term transition, understand, listen and act accordingly: with Whistle !

As we want to push this endeavor in the long run, we bring our know-hows in Design, Marketing and Strategy to all entrepreneurs or change-makers in order to support them in developing and sharpening their solutions for the territory.

How does it work ?
We organize 3h online sessions tackling your problematics, with experts that will be able to advise you in elaborating an action plan (get to know your audience/target, challenge your ideas, improve your core business, and more)

1. Reach out to us via krik@wearethewhistle.com by exposing your problematics and we will find an angle to approach our session.

2. We invite you to our online workshop tool for a 3h session.

3. You leave with a clear action plan and can request our further assistance.

To know more, go to www.wearethewhistle.com

In short

A stagnant touristic activity is a strong penalty for the Caribbean as the territory lives mostly from it. In order to find sustainable solutions and unveil the right questions around this health crisis, We Are The Whistle took a 5 days dive into the daily life of Caribbean tourism actors, and proposes a vision over several stages.

Share our impressions to us, questions, partnership suggestions, at krik@wearethewhistle.com.

We will be happy to listen to you, help or advise on your innovation, business and strategy problematics during our online coaching sessions!

✏️Copywriting :

We Are The Whistle team: Alvin Arthur, Arnaud Archimède, Karine Roger and William Korutos. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin @wearethewhistle.

👏 Thank you to all the actors who answered our questions during these 5 days.

We are not whistleblowers, we are the whistle.



We are the Whistle

Whistle is the Caribbean platform that brings change across design and supports every change maker.