As we approach the June 1st opening of the hurricane season, our thoughts should shift to readiness. Last month, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) partnered with Tropical Shipping for its annual disaster management workshop series, with two sessions held in The Bahamas. Tropical has conducted annual workshops in the Caribbean for many years, rotating to different destinations each year. They’ve been a major player when disasters strike, helping destinations to rebound as quickly as possible, bringing in urgently needed relief and restoration supplies and materials.
Given their years of experience and insight, we invited Vice President Tim Martin to join in a conversation about readiness:
From a shipper’s point of view, what can hotels and tourism-related businesses do to be better prepared for an interruption in the flow of goods and supplies immediately following a natural disaster?
As a carrier, Tropical Shipping firmly believes in building a culture of preparedness in all sectors of our communities.
We encourage tourism related businesses, and their suppliers, to have pre-established logistic and transportation plans for pre and post any natural disaster.
We also encourage that our customers, in anticipations a major storm, consider pre-positioning critical supplies. Advanced coordination with their cargo transportation consultants will aid in getting needed inventory for a faster recovery.
When a disaster strikes, a seaport may be closed for several days, affecting the speed of recovery. Getting in relief supplies, foodstuffs, and construction materials becomes a high priority. Based upon your experience, what are the common causes of delays in getting shipments flowing again and how can Governments, organizations like Chambers of Commerce and Hotel and Tourism Associations, and companies, help to expedite things?
The advanced coordination, and regular communications, with appropriate government agencies like customs and port officials, and with the local emergency management agencies, has proven to be one of the most effective strategies.
Collaborations with government agencies responsible for effective public/private partnership in disaster management goes a long way. The pre-established relationships and agreements with community organizations such as Chambers of Commerce and Hotel and Tourism Associations creates trusted partners in community resiliency.
Tropical Shipping has been hosting annual disaster management workshops, in collaboration with the Chambers of Commerce, hotel associations, local emergency management agencies in many island locations, as examples of creating best practices for business continuity.
When a disaster strikes, all hands are on deck. It can take days and sometimes weeks and months for things to normalize. What can employers do to prevent employee’s burnout during these critical times?
Develop business continuity plans that considers employees and their families first. Critical business processes, and back up strategies that reach across mutual aid and common industry associations is one way to provide back up support for small business, especially in the Caribbean.
Tropical Shipping has worked with Caribbean Governments, organizations, and companies on disaster readiness and response efforts. Tell us how, and based upon your experience what are we doing well, and can we do better?
Our commitment to the Caribbean Community is a part of our corporate culture, hosting these workshops over the last 20 years has proven that all disasters are local, and the first response in the recovery of any disaster begins at the local level. These workshops, awareness campaigns in preparedness, have been very effective.
What we could do better is to encourage each location in the Caribbean Region to establish their own private/public partnerships in disaster resiliency, year-round and at the local level, and not to wait for hurricane season.
They need to identify critical infrastructures such as grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, telecommunication providers and ensure that they are welcome to the table.