Reconstructing tourism in the Caribbean: connecting pandemic recovery, climate resilience and sustainable tourism through mobility justice

Caribbean islands that are highly dependent on tourism are facing compounding crises from climate-related disasters to the Covid-19 pandemic travel disruption. The rebuilding of tourism infrastructure has often been one of the main aims of international development aid and regional government responses to natural disasters. This article seeks to identify other ways in which Caribbean small island states and non-independent territories might rebuild more sustainable ecologies and economies as they come out of the pandemic within the ongoing climate crisis. The first part shows the historical grounding of climate change vulnerability in colonial histories, neoliberal capitalism and ongoing practices of “extractive” tourism. This analysis of the “coloniality of climate” centers on a critique of disaster tourism during these “unnatural disasters,” and allows for re-framing the ethical and political implications of tourism recovery when other human im/mobilities (such as migration) are severely curtailed. The article then elaborates on the theoretical concept of “mobility justice” as a way to think through the problem of sustainability transitions in relation to tourism mobilities, climate change and disaster recovery. The final section considers alternative visions for disaster reconstruction in the Caribbean centering food sovereignty, agroecology and regenerative economies, as promoted by community-based organizations and people’s assemblies.

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