Adelle Thomas, PhD* - College of The Bahamas
The recent global financial crisis has had significant implications for the global tourism industry, resulting in slow growth followed by a sharp drop of international tourist arrivals in the years following the crisis. These changes to the industry were significant stressors for the tourism dependent region of the Caribbean, and resulted in sharp declines in arrivals, occupancy rates and associated tourist spending. While there has been much research on the implications of these changes at the global, regional and destination scale, there has been little exploration of what these changes mean for individual tourism entities. This paper explores the evolutionary resilience of small tourism enterprises in The Bahamas as they adapt to cope with the changing conditions that the crisis has spurred. The responses of small hoteliers have largely focused on keeping business open using any available means, ranging from reducing staff to diversifying their sources of income. These responses show evolutionary resilience in action and expose how entities adapt to disturbances and shock through time rather than returning to a state of equilibrium as conceptualized in more traditional understandings of resilience. The changes of these tourism enterprises in response to the crisis also have ramifications for their sustainability. Are the changes significant enough to no longer classify these businesses as small tourism enterprises?