New tourism income data shows visitors’ crucial role

The island of Saint Lucia receives annual tourism revenues in excess of 31 prcent of its gross domestic product while in the Bahamas and Antigua & Barbuda tourists spend the equivalent of 29 percent of these countries’ GDP.

These three Caribbean nations top the list for the share of inbound visitor consumption in the region, according to data given by the Economic Commission for Latin America in its publication “Latin America and the Caribbean: Macroeconomic Indicators for Tourism.”

The tourist sector plays a crucial role in many of the region’s economies, in terms of job creation and production, as well as currency generation, the commission said. This document shows the economic importance of this sector in a given country and assesses some of its main characteristics, it added.

Although for Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole, tourism revenues represent 1.8 percent of GDP from 1980 to 2008, for the Caribbean subregion in particular this percentage is 16.6 percent. In Central American countries, the average figure is 5 percent from 1980 to 2009), while for some South American countries (such as Uruguay), the proportion was almost 4 percent for the same period.

The commission report presents the main Latin American and Caribbean results of a project to formulate indicators for the macroeconomic analysis of tourism at the world level, which is being carried out in conjunction with the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations.

The macroeconomic indicators included in this document, which is only available online, relate to international tourism, which means revenues that a country receives for the export of tourist services (inbound tourism) and the spending carried out by the country’s residents to import tourism services (outbound tourism).

In most Caribbean countries, indicators for the share of GDP represented by inbound visitor consumption (spending by non-residents) are highly significant. The figures for 2009 show that, in several countries, this proportion is around 30 percent. Meanwhile, about 50 percent of these countries’ exports of goods and services would take the form of tourism-related exports, like travel and passenger transportation account in the balance of payments.

For Central America, these indicators also point to the importance of tourism for these economies, where inbound visitor consumption represented around 10 percent of GDP in 2009 and about 20 percent of exports of goods and services.

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