Decline in tourists spending expected

A tourist takes a photo of a cruise ship in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday Nov. 23, 2011. The Caribbean anticipates another surge in visitors this winter, but officials warn that the amount the average tourist spends probably will decline.
AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo
AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo

Caribbean tourism officials said that while the Caribbean anticipates another surge in visitors this winter, they are warning that the amount of tourists spend while on vacation will decline.

That expected drop in expenditure is a concern for tourism officials, who said an increase in visitors might not offset the loss of revenue considered vital to the man small island scattered across the region.

President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Organization (CHTO) Josef Forstmayr said the spending is clearly impacted.

“The larger destinations have it a little easier. They have more resources, they get better airlift, they have better products,” he noted.

The economic crisis forced people to postpone their vacations for a few years, and while demand for travel has risen, tourists will not be able to afford much, said Evridiki Tsounta, an economist with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF has encouraged the Caribbean to diversify and seek other tourism markets, especially in Latin America, where the economy hags been rebounding.

Winfield Griffith, research director for the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) said spending is tight amid the ongoing economic crisis and tourists are cutting back on transportation, food and entertainment.

Last year, tourists across the Caribbean spent $22.3 billion, compared with a record $27 billion in 2007 said Sean Smith, statistics specialists with the CTO.

The biggest drop in expenditures in the last decade was reported in 2002, with $18.9 billion spent, he said.

Even with the falling expenditures, Caribbean countries such as the Bahamas, St. Lucia and the Dominican Republic announced a record number of visitors last year. Tourism officials hope to surpass the more than 23 million visitors reported last year this winter season.

Registration for the Caribbean marketplace, the region’s largest marketing event that will be held in the Bahamas in late January and aims to create vacation packages, is up by nearly 50 percent compared with last year, Forstmayr said.

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