Reimagining Future Island: The COVID-19 Impacts on Tourism Sector in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Strategies to Moving Forward

Abdul Fikri Angga Reksa, Ayu Nova Lissandhi, Choerunisa Noor Syahid
| Abstract views: 3 | views: 0


The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the global tourism industry, leaving millions of people unemployed without certainty when tourism bounces back. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are amongst the worst hit by the novel coronavirus. The unprecedented crisis has severely aggravated the SIDS economic growth due to relying on foreign tourists heavily. In the absence of international tourism, small island residents have been grappling with alternative income sources. Despite its notorious impacts, many scholars look at this global pandemic as a discernible opportunity to reverse mass tourism in the SIDS. Therefore, this paper aims to elaborate on the current condition of small islands communities amid COVID-19, their coping strategies, and their reflection of the future tourism industry in the SIDS. Furthermore, this paper also aims to discuss a prevailing policy to contain health emergency and economic collapse in the SIDS. Based on the critical literature review, many SIDS were already faced complex predicaments before the pandemic, such as high vulnerability to the climate crisis, lack of natural resources, extreme poverty, and reliance on external debts. International support is crucial to avoid the worst-case scenario for SIDS, including those which depend on the tourism industry. As a part of the recovery phase, this paper underscores the urgency of a more sustainable tourism practice for future development in the SIDS. That comprises strategic issues ranging from environmental-based tourism with a focus on socio-cultural aspects, and economic diversification to small island community resilience.


COVID-19; Small Island Developing States; Sustainable Tourism; Community Resilience.

Full Text:



Becker, H. (2021). The Impact of the COVID-19 Global Pandemic on the Cuban Tourism Industry and Recommendations for Cuba’s Response. Multidisciplinary Business Review, 14(1), 71-83.

Campling, L. (2006). A critical political economy of the small island developing states concept: South-South cooperation for island citizens?. Journal of Developing Societies, 22(3), 235-285.

Chummun, B.Z. & Mathithibane, M. (2020). Challenges and Coping Strategies of Covid 2019 in the Tourism Industry in Mauritius. African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure, 9(5):810-822.

Coke-Hamilton, P. (2020). Impact of Covid-19 on tourism in small island developing states. Retrieved from [accessed on 20 March 2021].

Committee for the Coordination of Statistical Activities (2021). How COVID-19 is changing the world: a statistical perspective Volume III. Technical report.

Connell, J. (2021). COVID-19 and tourism in Pacific SIDS: lessons from Fiji, Vanuatu and Samoa?. The Round Table, 110(1), 149-158.

Crossley, M., & Sprague, T. (2014). Education for sustainable development: Implications for small island developing states (SIDS). International Journal of Educational Development, 35, 86-95.

Gheuens, J., Nagabhatla, N., & Perera, E. D. P. (2019). Disaster-risk, water security challenges and strategies in Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Water, 11(4), 637.

Gounder, R. (2020). Economic Vulnerabilities and Livelihoods: Impact of COVID-19 in Fiji and Vanuatu. Oceania, 90, 107-113.

ILOstat database (2020). Labour statistic on women. Retrieved from /topics/women/ [Accessed on 26 March 2021].

Kelman, I. (2014). No change from climate change: vulnerability and small island developing states. The Geographical Journal, 180(2), 120-129.

Kelman, I. (2018). Islandness within climate change narratives of small island developing states (SIDS). Island Studies Journal, 13(1), 149-166.

Kelman, I., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Rose-Clarke, K., Prost, A., Ronneberg, E., Wheeler, N., & Watts, N. (2021). A review of mental health and wellbeing under climate change in small island developing states (SIDS). Environmental Research Letters.

Leal Filho, W., Lütz, J. M., Sattler, D. N., & Nunn, P. D. (2020). Coronavirus: COVID-19 transmission in pacific small island developing states. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(15), 5409.

Martial, Z. (2021). What is the impact of COVID-19 on Small Island Developing States? A Study on Income Inequality in Saint Lucia. Retrieved from 01/what-is-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-small-island-developing-states-a-case-study-on-income-inequality-in-saint-Lucia/ [accessed on 25 March 2021]

Martinet, M. E. (2019). The disaster after the disaster: The quicksand of post-disaster recovery funding. Journal of business continuity & emergency planning, 12(4), 331-341.

McKibbin, W., & Fernando, R. (2020). The economic impact of COVID-19. Economics in the Time of COVID-19, 45.

de-Miguel-Molina, B., de-Miguel-Molina, M., & Rumiche-Sosa, M. E. (2014). Luxury sustainable tourism in small island developing states surrounded by coral reefs. Ocean & coastal management, 98, 86-94.

Murphy, M. M., Jeyaseelan, S. M., Howitt, C., Greaves, N., Harewood, H., Quimby, K. R., ... & Hambleton, I. R. (2020). COVID-19 containment in the Caribbean: The experience of small island developing states. Research in Globalization, 2, 100019.

Mulder, N. (2020). The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism sector in Latin America and the Caribbean, and options for a sustainable and resilient recovery. International Trade series, No. 157 (LC/TS.2020/147), Santiago, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

OECD (2021). COVID-19 pandemic: Towards a blue recovery in small island developing states. Retrieved from _1060174-tnkmsj15ap&title=COVID-19-pandemic-Towards-a-blue-recovery-in-small-island-developing-states [accesed on 20 March 2021].

Petzold, J., & Ratter, B. (2019). More than just SIDS: local solutions for global problems on small islands. Island Studies Journal, 14(1), 3-8.

Pratt, S. (2015). The economic impact of tourism in SIDS. Annals of tourism research, 52, 148-160.

Robinson, S. A. (2020). Climate change adaptation in SIDS: A systematic review of the literature pre and post the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 11(4), e653.

Scheyvens, R. & Apisalomo M. (2020). Traditional skills help people on the tourism-deprived Pacific Islands survive the pandemic. Retrieved from traditional-skills-help-people-on-the-tourism-deprived-pacific-islands-survive-the-pandemic-148987 [accessed on 1 April 2021].

Suzana, M., Walls, H., Smith, R., & Hanefeld, J. (2018). Achieving universal health coverage in small island states: could importing health services provide a solution?. BMJ global health, 3(1).

UNCTAD (2020). Impact of COVID-19 on tourism in small island developing states. Retrieved from [accesed on 20 March 2020].

UNDESA (2020). The COVID-19 pandemic puts small island developing economies in dire straits. Policy Brief No. 64.

UN Maldives (2020). Addressing the Socio-Economic Impact of COVID-19 on the Maldives. Technical Report.

UNSDG (2020). COVID-19 Socioeconomic Response and Recovery Framework. Technical Report.

Walters, G., Broome, N., Cracco, M., Dash, T., Dudley, N., Elías, S., ... & Van Vliet13, N. (2021). COVID-19, Indigenous peoples, local communities and natural resource governance. PARKS, 27, 57-62.

World Tourism Organization/UNWTO (2020a). Impact assessment of the COVID 19 outbreak on international tourism. Updated December 2020. Retrieved from [accessed on 20 March 2021].

World Tourism Organization/UNWTO (2020b). UNWTO Briefing Note – Tourism and COVID-19, Issue 2. Tourism in SIDS – the challenge of sustaining livelihoods in times of COVID-19, UNWTO, Madrid, DOI:

Worldometers (2021). COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic. Retrieved from [accessed on 4 April 2021].

Wolf, F., Singh, P., Scherle, N., Reiser, D., Telesford, J., Miljković, I. B., ... &

Kovaleva, M. (2021). Influences of Climate Change on Tourism Development in Small Pacific Island States. Sustainability, 13(8), 4223.

Yin, R. K. (2013). Validity and generalization in future case study evaluations. Evaluation, 19(3), 321-332.

Zarilli, S. & Aydiner-Avsar, N. (2020). COVID-19 puts women working in SIDS tourism industry at risk. Retrieved from [accessed on 26 March 2021].

Zhang, H., Song, H., Wen, L., & Liu, C. (2021). Forecasting tourism recovery amid COVID-19. Annals of Tourism Research, 87, 103149.

Copyright (c) 2021 Abdul Fikri Angga Reksa, Ayu Nova Lissandhi, Choerunisa Noor Syahid
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


  • There are currently no refbacks.