TTC Service.- The CTO put the tsunamis on the list of problems that can affect the Caribbean under an old concept: It is better to caution than to have to regret.
“We do see a general increased tsunami awareness now as the tourism sector and governments are starting to feel more vulnerable to weather related disasters,” said a week ago Amanda Charles, from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) at a session on how to reduce tsunami risk in the tourism sector held at the Sixth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Cartagena, Colombia.
“The tourism sector is realizing how much they can lose when disasters happen. Some are also beginning to understand that resilience can be an additional competitive advantage as well,” added Charles.
Records claim that this phenomenon can be dangerous for the region. A dozen earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have occurred in the Caribbean near Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Hispaniola in the past 500 years generating more than 75 tsunamis.
Although tsunamis cannot be compare to the Caribbean hurricanes that strike each year, their destructive power is enormous. The Caribbean has many things to protect and cannot discard precautions.
In 2017 more than 30 million tourists visited the Caribbean which contributed more than $37 billion to the Caribbean economy, according to the CTO, a record breaking year for the Caribbean region despite the devastating 2017 hurricane season.
According to Charles Anguilla and the four islands of British Virgin Islands are now Tsunami ready. St. Kitts and Nevis have annual drills, inundation and tsunami evacuation maps and Puerto Rico has developed a tsunami safety card for tourists which is accessible and distributed in hotels.
“Those are considerable progresses even if we can still see some resistance from countries too cautious to scare tourists and with too many assets located in areas vulnerable to tsunamis, she said.
The low perception of the risks can be as dangerous as the disasters. That’s why the Dominican Republic is among the few Islands to have integrated tsunami risks in its local prevention plans. That country faced in 1946 a tsunami following a magnitude-8.1 earthquake off the northeast coast which killed more than 1,600 people.
Experts recommend a warning system in the Caribbean that detects the immediate possibility of a tsunami in the first moments of the cause, usually an earthquake.
CTO agree in have a considerably improved of national and regional monitoring and warning and invested massively in structural and non-structural preventive measures to reduce economic losses.