Tourism governance in San Andrés Island (Colombia) and its role in community resilience to multiple disasters

Coastal communities are currently confronting greater vulnerability due to the combined effect of the increase in the intensity and frequency of natural hazards and the socioeconomic impacts imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, governments, economic sectors, and all social structures have been challenged in the ways they resist and respond not only to the pandemic, but also to the intersections with other disasters. San Andrés Island, a highly tourism dependent island in the Colombian Caribbean, exemplifies this situation, having been affected by the passage of the hurricanes Eta and Iota in November 2020 at the beginning of its economic reactivation during the pandemic. With the increase in frequency, intensity and complexity of natural and human induced hazards, managers, policy makers and academics at national and international level have highlighted the need to understand and enhance the factors that enable communities to respond to and recover from disasters with minor or no external assistance.
Community resilience, understood as a process that links a set of capacities to a trajectory of functioning and adaptation following a perturbation, has been extensively promoted to enable communities to positively respond to a range of changes. From a resilience perspective, the governance of social-ecological systems emphasizes the role of institutions in managing and shaping the capacity of a system to cope and adapt to a changing environment, therefore, governance can be seen as a factor that enhances or erodes community resilience. Drawing on the description of the tourism governance structure in San Andrés, coupled with the implementation of a resilience capacities framework including place attachment, community cohesion and efficacy, community networks, leadership, and knowledge and learning, for its assessment in the tourism community; this study aims to understand the role of the tourism governance structure in building community resilience in San Andrés Island. Based on a survey and semi-structured interviews with key informants, this study found that structural and cognitive dimensions of the tourism governance structure differentially influence the emergence of the resilience capacities assessed. These findings suggests that the current mode of governance needs to be more flexible, collaborative, and polycentric in order to enhance the capacity to cope with changes and uncertainty by mobilizing diverse sources of resilience to secure people's livelihoods. This study also highlights the importance of social components such as cultural values, identity and power in governance research related to community resilience, as these are critical in shaping governance systems and the possibilities for transformation.