According to the World Tourism Organisation, Seven of the World’s most tourism-dependent nations are located in the Caribbean. It’s really rather splendid news then that the volume of tourist visits to the Caribbean’s Tropical Sky is increasing every year, and set to increase for some time. But troubles may be ahead, and there are questions about the quality of spending to be asked too.
The largest immediate issue for the Caribbean economy, especially holidays to Barbados (and other nations who depend on former colonial ties for a higher degree of British tourists) are the Air Passenger Duty rules passed down by the UK Government. Whilst hope of an outright U-Turn is minimal, Caribbean trade figures are so concerned that they’re actively appealing for the UK Government to change its policy in the March budget. Flying to the Caribbean under the new rules cost the UK traveller about Â£150 extra, so it’s unsurprising that there has been a fall off in numbers from the UK. The UK’s national VAT rise and recent GDP problems will on exacerbate the problem.
Worrying as this is, it’s perhaps simply a shift in source markets that may turn out to be more permanent. The numbers are because places like China are realising their potential as source markets. 23 million people visited the Caribbean in 2010, five percent up from the 22.1 million witnessed in 2009. It’s not just the annual family holidays that keep the Caribbean afloat Weddings Abroad are showing renewed vitality. However, analysts are noting that the increasing numbers aren’t necessarily meaning any improvements in revenue. Josef Forstmayr, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association president, claims that ‘visitors and not spending as much’. People require holidays to the extent where, without fail, they’ll try to book themselves a week or so of quality time, regardless of cost. In tight economic conditions, they’re simply less likely to follow up this initial spend with as much extra activity that results in gain for local businesses. People go to the Caribbean to enjoy a grand asset that is also free for the taking: the climate. Since it’s impossible for local business to monetise the sun, it’s hoped that conditions will improve.