Caribbean one of the subregions most affected by standstill in tourism
Published on Friday, December 26, 2008
SANTIAGO, Chile (ECLAC): The Caribbean and Central America will be the
subregions most affected by the stagnation in tourism caused by the
About 75 percent of tourists to the English-speaking Caribbean, over 40
percent of those visiting Central America, and more than 75 percent of
tourists to Cuba and the Dominican Republic come from developed
economies in recession, says the report Preliminary Overview of the
Economies of Latin America and the Caribbean 2008, recently published by
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that in 2008, tourism
will grow between 2 and 3 percent, very distant from the 6.6 percent
reached last year. In 2009, it is expected to expand even less,
somewhere between 0 percent and 2 percent.
Tourism began experiencing a strong deceleration between June and August
2008 due to the increasing deterioration of real income and consumer
expectations, the volatility of exchange rates, and restraints on
consumer loans due to the financial crisis.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, tourism is one of the economic
activities that has flourished most in recent years, and its importance
has increased as a generator of value-added and income, says the ECLAC
In the Caribbean, tourism related exports compose about 20 percent of
GDP, while in Central America, it is an average 5 percent, but reaches
nearly 10 percent in the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Costa Rica.
Tourism expenditures in the English-speaking Caribbean -with the
exception of Guyana, Surinam and Trinidad & Tobago- are equivalent to
15-41 percent of GDP. As a proportion of total exports of goods and
services, expenditures are even greater, given that tourism is the main
source of income and the motor of these economies.
In the first eight months of 2008, the arrival of tourists to Central
America and South America continued rising by 9.4 percent and 7.2
percent, respectively. However, in the Caribbean it grew only 3 percent.
Between June and August, demand for tourism services in the Caribbean
has come to a standstill due to the lower number of visitors to the
Bahamas, Barbados, Bermudas and Puerto Rico, four destinations visited
mainly by United States and European travelers. In Mexico, arrivals
increased 4.8 percent during the same period, followed by a drop in the
flow of tourists.
Lower inflation and currency depreciation in several Latin American and
Caribbean nations could partially compensate the impact on regional
tourism caused by the financial crisis. Competitive prices and the
exchange rate in tourism destinations may play a significant role in
sustaining the activity.
Investments in recent years in several countries have placed them in a
better position to compete for the decreasing demand for tourism
services expected in the near future, adds the ECLAC report.