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IMF warns of tourism pain


Ricky Jordan in Washington

IMF warns of tourism pain

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A top official of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says tourism in the Caribbean and Barbados could be hit hard if the shutdown of the United States government, now in its second week, drags on.
Thomas Helbling, advisor to the IMF’s research department, told the MIDWEK NATION yesterday that once consumers in the United States become more constrained than they have been in the current global economic crisis, they may only spend on essentials and cause destinations like Barbados to lose more valuable tourist dollars. The United States and Canada are second only to Europe as Barbados’ main tourist markets.
“To the extent that the Caribbean is a major tourist destination for American visitors, a lot of tourism depends on disposable income, so if the government shutdown were prolonged . . . into weeks and months rather than a very short period [which the IMF is hoping for], some consumers would be constrained in the sense that they wouldn’t have income and would have to use their assets.
“Typical consumption behaviour is that you keep the essential expenditure going and start saving on less essential expenditure, and for many households this will mean reducing tourism,” he said at the end of yesterday’s opening press briefing of the IMF-World Banks’ week-long series of meetings in Washington, DC.

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