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Fall-off in tourism predicted for 2016

SHAWN CUMBERBATCH, [email protected]

Fall-off in tourism predicted for 2016

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TOURISM IS POISED to lose some steam this year, even as officials continue to hunt increased arrivals and airlift. Less than a month before the winter tourist season ends, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has just released its Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2016 Barbados report.

It is predicting that this year the island will have to contend with decreases in the industry’s direct contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), total contribution to GDP, total contribution to employment, and visitor spending. The forecast also said travel and tourism investment would increase, while the direct contribution to employment would remain the same.

The report, which was produced with help from Oxford Economics, found that Barbados generated more than $2.1 billion from leisure and business travellers last year. It said this year that contribution “is expected to fall by 2.4 per cent, and the country is expected to attract 591 000 international tourist arrivals”.

“Leisure travel spending (inbound and domestic) generated 88.1 per cent of direct travel and tourism GDP in 2015 ($2.14 billion compared with 11.9 per cent for business travel spending ($288.1 million),” WTTC said.

“Leisure travel spending is expected to fall by 2.2 per cent in 2016 to $2.09 billion . . . . Business travel spending is expected to grow by 0.3 per cent in 2016 to $288.9 million.”

The report said that overall travel and tourism’s direct contribution to Barbados’ GDP last year was more than $1 billion (12 per cent of total GDP) in 2015. This is forecast to fall by two per cent this year.

It added: “The total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was $3.48 billion (39.5 per cent of GDP) in 2015 . . . . In 2015 travel and tourism directly supported 15 500 jobs (12.3 per cent of total employment). This is expected to remain unchanged in 2016.

“In 2015, the total contribution of travel and tourism to employment, including jobs indirectly supported by the industry, was 39.2 per cent of total employment (49 500 jobs). This is expected to fall by 0.9 per cent in 2016 to 49 000 jobs.

“Travel and tourism investment in 2015 was $311.5 million, or 22.8 per cent of total investment. It should rise by 7.3 per cent in 2016.”

WTTC explained the difference between the industry’s “direct” contribution, and its “total” contribution.

Direct contribution was “total spending within a particular country on travel and tourism by residents and non-residents for business and leisure purposes as well as Government ‘individual’ spending – spending by Government on travel and tourism services directly linked to visitors, such as cultural or recreational”.

Total contribution had indirect and induced impacts. This included GDP and jobs supported by travel and tourism investment spending, “Government ‘collective’ spending, which helps travel and tourism activity in many different ways as it is made on behalf of the ‘community at large’”, and domestic purchases of goods and services by the sectors dealing directly with tourists fell into the indirect category.

The induced measurement included “the GDP and jobs supported by the spending of those who are directly or indirectly employed by the travel and tourism sector”.