The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented collapse in tourism globally, and has challenged countries’ traditional tourism crisis and disaster management planning approaches. Given this, there is an urgent need to support the tourism sector as it emerges from COVID-19, and deliver reforms that boost sector resilience. The challenge is to navigate the way forward for the tourism sector by balancing the urgent need for economic revival at the same time as prioritising a shift towards sustainability.

TRC Consultants Penny Spoelder and Natasha Paul recently completed a study for the Asian Development Bank’s Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI) and the Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) to examine the COVID-19 response of 14 Pacific developing member countries (DMCs) in terms of crisis management and resilience planning in the tourism sector.

PSDI is an ADB technical assistance program undertaken in partnership with the Governments of Australia and New Zealand, supporting ADB’s 14 Pacific DMCs to improve the enabling environment for business and to achieve inclusive, private sector-led economic growth.

Penny and Natasha presented their findings on reframing, building and maintaining tourism sector resilience as part of the Pacific Tourism Organisation’s reopening of the Pacific webinar series. In the webinar, they discussed why the existing approach to crisis management falls short in addressing the range of risks faced by the sector, signalling a need for an approach that focuses on systemic resilience. They shared the key findings of their research and identified potential tools to support context-specific crisis and resilience planning in the Pacific tourism sector, considering the needs of different stakeholders, and recommended priority areas for further work to support transformation to a more resilient Pacific tourism sector.