Just how vulnerable much of the Caribbean remains to economies that continue to be heavily dependent on tourism is reflected in a recent report published by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) which puts the financial cost of the still rampaging Covid-19 virus at a staggering US$33.9 billion.
The WTTC’s annual Economic Impact Report (EIR) states that travel and tourism’s contribution to the Caribbean’s gross domestic product plummeted from $58.4 billion (14.1 percent) in 2019 to $24.5 billion in 2020, a staggering 58%, far exceeding the global average, the report said.
Arguably the most telling immediate-term blow inflicted on the region’s tourism sector is reflected in the virtually immediate-term loss of 680,000 jobs in the sector across the Caribbean. The report also found that the number of people employed in the region’s travel and tourism sector slipped from 2.76 million in 2019 to 2.08 million last year, a decline of 24.7 %.
The economies of the countries in the region that fell victim to the decline in the tourism industry were also affected in other ways, the WTTC report says, Domestic visitor spending slipped by 49.6 % while international visitor spending fell by 68 %.
As measures designed to seek to rein in the spread of the pandemic begin to take root in the region, however, several countries have moved to restart their respective tourism industries. Allied to this has been the availability of new data indicating that the majority of departures scheduled from the United States this year are destined for the Caribbean, a circumstance that promises to hasten recovery of the region’s tourism industry.