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SECTORSTOURISM


Tourism-dependence and its discontents


WITH INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS DOWN73%, TOURISM-DEPENDENT COUNTRIES’ GROWTH RISK HAS BEEN EXPOSED. SETH O’FARRELL REPORTS


G


lobalisationand tourismare longstanding bedfellows. It comes as little surprise, then,


that the shockwaves sent through the global economy as a result of the pan- demic have been particularly devas- tating for the tourism sector and tour- ism-dependent countries. Due to national lockdowns and


travel bans, international tourist arrivals fell by 73%in 2020, according to theWorld TourismOrganisation (UNWTO).Whilemany countries in tourism-heavy regions, such as the Pacific or the Caribbean, did not experience a significant spread of Covid-19among theirownpopula- tions, the quara ntines imple- mented in the US and Europe deliv- ered anunprecedented blowto their economies. While the global economic


contraction for 2020 stood at -4.4% in real gross domestic product (GDP) growth, according to IMF figures, the effect on the most tourism-dependent countrieswas evenworse. Macau, a specialadministrative


region in the People’s Republic of China that has the highest propor- tionofGDPgenerated by travel and tourism in theworld, suffered a real GDPsetback of -56.3%. Meanwhile, the tourism-dependent Caribbean countries—Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize,Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines— were hit by a -10.1% knock to their realGDP. According to the latest IMF projec-


tions, the region’s tourism-dependent countries are expected to growat a


realGDP rate of 1.4%and 5.1% in 2021 and 2022, respectively.


Arange of solutions Following the early setbacks, some governments, suchas Vanuatu, have provided financial support to help their citizens and small businesses. Others have been too fiscally chal- lenged to do so. The Caribbean is one of themost indebted regions in the world and something of a poster child for highdebt, limited fiscal space, highpublic sectoremploy- ment and heavy tourismdependence. Initially, there weremoves to capi-


talise on the region’s natural resources of sun, sand and sea by attracting well-heeled global citizens whowanted to add a beach to their work-from-homeset up. In June 2020, Barbados introduced a ‘welcome


Still waiting: Greece has yet to find out if it is to be added to green lists for northern European travellers 82 www.fDiIntelligence.com June/July 2021


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