Financial crisis bites into tourism numbers

NEW YORK, United States, November 27, 2008 – Caribbean countries are beginning to feel the drought in travel brought on by the economic meltdown in the United States.

The latest figures released by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), as of November 20, show a fall-off for the regional tourism sector, the backbone for many Caribbean economies, for the January to October period.

Antigua and Barbuda reported a 10.4 per cent drop in tourist arrivals for October alone, down from a drop of 8.8 per cent in September. Arrival rates in the Cayman Islands declined by 2.6 per cent and St Lucia by 3.1 per cent, although both represented a bounce back from the September numbers. The US Virgin Islands, Montserrat, the Dominican Republic and the British Virgin Islands also all saw a drop off in September.

Anguilla experienced an almost 11 per cent reduction between January and August while Bermuda’s drop for the same period was close to nine per cent. St Vincent and the Grenadines’ arrivals dropped almost 11 per cent in the January to July period, while Guyana saw a decline by almost 26 per cent.

Also experiencing declines for the January to August period were the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Grenada, Montserrat, Martinique, the BVI, Belize and Barbados.

Financial experts predict a drop off in tourism dollars and remittances could force many of the Caribbean economies into further crisis. Private resorts are already cutting payroll by firing employees. The Bahamas Atlantis Resort cut 800 jobs recently while Cap Cana fired 500 workers last month after Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and a US$250 million loan fell through. (Caribworldnews)