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Meagre growth despite improved tourism performance

SHAWN CUMBERBATCH, [email protected]

Meagre growth despite improved tourism performance

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A “STELLAR” TOURISM performance was not enough to grow the Barbados economy beyond 0.5 per cent last year.

And as Barbados enters the heart of the ongoing winter season, the Central Bank is pinning its prediction of 1.8 per cent growth this year on the sector and construction stimulating wholesale, retail and business services.

This was outlined by Governor Dr DeLisle Worrell today when the bank released its 2015 review and 2016 outlook.

“The Barbados economy is estimated to have grown by 0.5 per cent in 2015, thanks mainly to a stellar tourism performance. There was a 13 per cent increase in airlift from major source markets, an expansion in room stock, and refurbishment of aging hotel plant,” Worrell said.

“The tourism outturn was the best on record since 2007, with activity in the sector rebounding to pre-crisis levels. Tourism receipts grew by an estimated 5 per cent, with arrivals up by 14 per cent, and all major markets recorded double digit increases.

In terms of this year, the economist said beyond the 1.8 per cent growth expected, real gross domestic product “is forecast to expand by 1.7 per cent on average, peaking at about two per cent in 2017 when major tourism infrastructural projects are expected to be in process or nearing completion”.

A major part of the challenge for Barbados last year, the bank added, was that “tourism was the only sector to record measurable growth”.

Construction activity is estimated to have decreased by three per cent.      

Employment remained high at 11.8 per cent, and Worrell said “the 2015/16 fiscal deficit target of four percent of GDP is within reach, provided that Government completes the planned divestment of the Barbados National Terminal Company Ltd”. (SC)