Essays, poems and Stories of an African-American

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Know Your "Caribbean"

Islands in an economic storm

Tourism, agriculture and fossil fuels drive the Caribbean’s regional economy but as this interactive guide shows, the global recession has had markedly different impacts on different countries
Bahamas
The Bahamas has suffered one of the most pronounced economic setbacks across the region. Though located in the Atlantic, it is considered by organisations such as the IMF to be part of the Caribbean. Inboundtourism has rebounded after the global recession - the islands now welcome almost 6m visitors per year, up from 4.2m in 2000 – but gross domestic product (GDP) per capita contracted by 5 per cent in 2009 and is still 5 percentage points below its 2000 level. Similarly, unemployment rose by 5.5 percentage points in 2009 and is only now showing signs of returning to its longer term trend. The government is now implementing an austerity programme even the International Monetary Fund calls “ambitious”. As a result, the central government debt ratio is expected to peak at about 60 per cent of GDP in fiscal year 2014/15 and fall to about 55 percent of GDP by fiscal year 2017/18. Fossil fuels exports will be important in bringing the Bahamas back to steady growth - they rose 46% in 2012 and have doubled in two years – as will the opening of the giant Baha Mar resort from 2015 onwards. Baha Mar is being built and financed largely by China. Tourists have evidently not been put off by high crime rates - the islands have the 10th highest homicide rate in the world and 317 out of every 100,000 of its population are in prison.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100M2.5M5M7.5M
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Amount of cocaine products seized 2007-2011
5,086 kg
Population, July 2013
368,000
Barbados
Barbados remains one of the more popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean, but the numbers have stagnated over the past decade, and a rapid decline in sugar exports has contributed to the toll on the labour force. The value of sugar exports has fallen by two thirds since 2000, with the decline picking up pace in 2008. The jobless rate fell to 7.4 per cent in 2007, but since then the unemployment trend has reversed, and grew for the fifth consecutive year in 2012 to 11.6 per cent. GDP fell by 4 per cent in 2009 and has been relatively static since, with the sluggish economy and growinggovernment debt likely to put public finances under pressure in the medium term. In 2000 Barbados' debt to GDP ratio was among the lowest in the region, at 46 per cent, but has since almost doubled and now stands at 86 per cent. Many experts fear the country will eventually have to enter an IMF programme.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100k500k1,000k1,500k
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Population density in people per square kilometre, second highest in the region
659
Population, July 2013
276,000
Jamaica
For decades Jamaica's economy was been driven by exports and tourism industry, but both were hit by the global recession; the economy is still struggling to shake off the effects. Exports of bananas had already been weakening in the early 2000s but plummeted in 2008. Fossil fuels, an increasingly important export for Jamaica, dropped by over half between 2007 and 2009 but have shown steady growth since then. Tourism fell sharply during the recession, and only recovered to the level of 2006 in 2011. More encouragingly, visitor numbers grew 7 per cent in 2012, despite extremely high levels of crime. Jamaica's homicide rate has fallen for two successive years but remains the fifth highest in the world, and over half of all cannabis products seized in the Caribbean over the last five years were in Jamaica. The overall impact is clearly visible in the economic data. Gross domestic product per capita fell sharply in 2008 and is now just 0.2 per cent higher than at the turn of the millennium. Jamaica's debt to GDP ratio has grown over the same period and government arrears now stand at a precipitous 146 per cent of national income – one of the highest ratios in the world even after two debt restructurings in the past three years.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100M1M2M3M4M
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Proportion of all cannabis products seized in the Caribbean 2007 - 2011
56%
Population, July 2013
2,715,000
Saint Kitts and Nevis
With a population of just 55,000 St Kitts and Nevis is one of the least populous countries in the Caribbean. Over 700,000 visitors arrived on its shores in 2011 - more than 10 for every resident and up threefold from 2000 - but despite buoyant tourism, the wilting sugar and banana industries have weighed heavily on the economy. Exports of bananas and sugar have each declined by over 99% since 2000, as the country lost preferential access to European markets after Latin American producers complained to the World Trade Organisation. GDP per capita had been growing from 2003 to 2008 but has since contracted sharply and at US$12,804 is down 5 per cent in real terms on its 2000 level.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100k250k500k750k1,000k
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Increase in inbound tourism 2000-2011
289%
Population, July 2013
55,000
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago has the healthiest economy in the Caribbean, thanks largely to its huge energy exports. Oil was long the mainstay, but natural gas is now the dominant export. Tourism numbers, while inconsistent, have remained relatively healthy at around half a million per year since 2000. As a result. GDP per capita is 61 per cent higher than it was in 2000 - the highest increase among all large Caribbean economies for that period. Energy revenues also bolster state finances, with the debt to GDP ratio at a healthy 39 per cent and unemployment has been below 6 per cent since 2007. However, the country was in 2009 clobbered by the collapse of CL Financial, a large conglomerate with tentacles across the Caribbean. Trinidad had to shoulder the bill for its bailout, and four years on is still cleaning up the mess. Crime is still a tremendous problem for Trinidad and Tobago, despite the murder rate creeping down from its peak - 41.1 homicides per 100,000 people in 2008 - since the government was forced to declare a state of emergency in 2011. In 2008 Trinidad and Tobago had the second highest rate in the Caribbean, but the 2011 figure was down a third on this level and is down to fifth place. Nonetheless, the number of homicides has begun to climb again in recent years.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100k200k400k600k
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Proportion of all cannabis products seized in the Caribbean 2007 - 2011
19%
Population, July 2013
1,344,000
Anguilla
Anguilla is among the smallest countries in the Caribbean, with a population of just 14,000. Reliable macroeconomic data is patchy, but such is the strength of its tourism sector - in 2012 it had almost ten times as many visitors as residents - that these figures can shed light on the broader situation. Inbound tourism contracted by 22 per cent in 2008 and is still well below its 2006-07 peak, suggesting that the national economy is struggling to return to pre-recession levels.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100k50k100k150k200k
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is one of the smaller territories in the Caribbean. It has relied primarily on tourism and fossil fuels exports in recent decades, but both industries were hit by the global recession and that took a toll on the broader economy. Inbound visitor numbers had been rising steadily from 2002 to 2009 but then dropped 17 per cent; in 2012, visitor numbers were still 15 per cent down on their 2009 figure. Similarly, fuels exports had been on an upward trend from 2000 to 2009 but plummeted the following year and are down a third on the 2000 total.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100k500k1,000k
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Aruba
The third most densely populated Caribbean territory, Aruba is heavily reliant on tourism. In 2012 it received a total of almost 1.5m visitors compared with a resident population of just 105,000. Tourism in Aruba has proved largely immune to the global recession. In 2008, there was a notable increase with annual totals rising from an average of 1.24m (2000-2007) to 1.43m (2008-2012). Aruba was also the site of the eighth largest total amount of cocaine seized in the region in 2008. Some 144kg of the substance was discovered over the course of the year, valued at about $24m.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100k500k1,000k1,500k2,000k
Source: World Tourism Organisation
British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands is among the smallest and least populous Caribbean territories - its 32,000 inhabitants are spread across just 44 square miles - but in 2012 it attracted more than 20 tourists for every resident. The health of its tourism industry may be due in part to its relatively low crime. Among Caribbean islands the BVIs enjoy a low homicide rate of 8.6 per 100,000 residents - the regional median is 15.3 - although its incarceration rate is the third highest. Nevertheless while its visitor numbers are impressive in absolute terms, tourism to the BVIs has been falling slowly from a peak of 948,000 in 2007.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100k500k1,000k
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Cayman Islands
Among the smallest and least populous islands in the region, the Caymans rely primarily on tourism and financial services to drive the economy, while boats and precious jewellery are among the main exports. Up-to-date figures on the size of the Cayman economy are few and far between, but according to the recent CIA figures, tourism accounts for around 70 per cent of GDP, making it a reasonable proxy for broader economic wellbeing. Data suggest the islands may be returning to trend after a brief spike in the middle of the last decade - inbound visitor numbers grew from 1.4m in 2000 to fluctuate around 2m from 2003 to 2007 before settling around 1.8m in the years since.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100M1M2M3M
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Cuba
Despite being the largest and most populous country in the Caribbean, US trade restrictions against Cuba mean that its economic potential has been curtailed for over five decades. And even in more recent history Cuba's exports have continued to struggle. Revenues from bananas, sugar and fossil fuels were all down by 50 per cent or more when data was last available. But Cuba remains a popular tourist destination for non-Americans. Its relative safety helps. A homicide rate of 6 or fewer per 100,000 since 2001 is the second lowest in the Caribbean and less than a third of the regional median. Between 2000 and 2012 tourist numbers rose by over 50 per cent to 2.7m per year.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100M1M2M3M
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Curaçao
Curaçao is an overseas territory of the Netherlands and has a population of around 155,000. Like many of the other relatively small islands in the Caribbean - its total land area is 171 square miles - Curaçao has an economy dominated by tourism. Relative to its population, however, visitor numbers are not as high as those of many other territories in the region. It also has experienced a notable decline: inbound tourist numbers fell by 50 per cent in 2012, from 837,000 to 420,000, that latest figure giving a ratio of 2.7 visitors per resident.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100k250k500k750k1,000k
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Dominica
Dominica is the third largest island nation in the Caribbean behind Cuba and Jamaica but has one of the lowest population densities at 246 people per square mile. For decades its economy was reliant primarily on exports of bananas, but declining revenues in this area have seen Dominica become among the poorer nations in the region. Dominica was the fifth biggest exporter of bananas in the Caribbean in 2000, shipping 30m tonnes overseas; by 2012 the figure had shrunk to 155,000 tonnes. Nevertheless, a burgeoning tourism industry has helped raise GDP per capita by 30 per cent over the same period to US$6,780. Visitor numbers almost doubled from 312,000 in 2000 to 608,000 in 2009 and despite falling since are still above their 2000-2003 average at 347,000.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100k250k500k750k
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic was for decades one of the largest agricultural exporters in the Caribbean. This sector is declining in importance but the country still exports about 40 times as many bananas by weight as the rest of the region combined, generating revenues of US$65m in 2012. Sugar is another lingering strength - exports brought in US$129m in 2011 (the latest year for which data are available), twice as much as any other country. More important for the Dominican Republic's economy today is tourism. Visitors in 2012 numbered 4.9m, a rise of 55 per cent in 12 years. As a result, national GDP per capita has risen by almost half since 2000 and is US$5,766 and, after rising to a peak of 18.4 per cent in 2005, unemployment is down to 13 per cent.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100M2M4M6M
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Grenada
Unlike many of its neighbours, Grenada's main economic challenges have come not from the global recession but from Hurricane Ivan, which reached the island and its capital, St George's, on September 7, 2004. An estimate from the OrganiSation of Eastern Caribbean States and the UN Economic Commission for Latin America put total damage at US$800m, or twice Grenada's GDP. Its previously thriving agricultural sector was severely damaged and suffered again a year later during Hurricane Emily. Rebuilding costs have seen government debt climb from 87 per cent of GDP in 2004 to 109 per cent in 2011. The tourism sector has provided relief for Grenada, with visitor numbers increasing from 316,000 in 2000 to 460,000 in 2009. The global slowdown appears to have pushed that figure down to 361,000 in 2012.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100k200k400k600k
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Guadeloupe
As an overseas territory of France, Guadeloupe is lacking in macroeconomic data with which to make direct comparisons with other Caribbean islands. It relies heavily on French subsidies and imports as well as a regular flow of tourists from France. According to statistics from the UN World Tourism Organisation, more than 90 per cent of Guadeloupe's inbound tourists come from mainland France, and Europe as a whole accounts for over 95 per cent. Tourism from metropolitan France made up a smaller portion - 83 per cent - at the turn of the millennium, and the drop in tourism from other countries has played a part in falling visitor numbers to Guadeloupe. The islands saw 1m inbound tourists in 2000 but by 2007 the figure was half of that. In 2011 - the latest available data - numbers had fallen to 418,000.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100k500k1,000k1,500k
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Haiti
Like Grenada, Haiti's economic struggles have come more from natural disasters than the global slowdown. The earthquake of 2010 led to the deaths of more than 100,000 people and cost an estimated US$7.8bn, leaving Haiti as the poorest country in the western hemisphere, according to the CIA World Factbook. The earthquake's effects can be seen in the charts to the right - having remained relatively static in real terms between 2004 and 2009, Haiti's GDP per capita fell in real terms by 5 per cent in 2010 to US$665. Tourism suffered slightly in the same year, although visitor numbers rebounded in 2011, reaching 946,000 - a more than 100 per cent increase on the same figure for 2000.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100k500k1,000k
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Martinique
Another French overseas territory, Martinique has seen a similar fall in tourism to Guadaloupe. Visitor numbers have followed a general downward trend between 2000 and 2012, shrinking by 29 per cent overall but stabilising around 550,000 per year since 2007. Martinique is also notable for its low and stable homicide rate. In 2009 - the latest year for which data are available from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime - there were 4.2 homicides per 100,000 of the population, the lowest rate in the Caribbean and equal to the global median.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100k250k500k750k1,000k
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Puerto Rico
As an unincorporated territory of the US, Puerto Rico benefits from a reliable flow of tourism from the US. Since 2009, Americans have accounted for about 85 per cent of all overnight visitors. After peaking in THE middle of the last decade, total inbound tourism dropped sharply in 2009 and is lower than at any time this century. Visitor numbers increased from 4.6m in 2000 to 5.2m in 2008; as the global recession hit, the numbers tumbled to 4.4m in 2009 and fell to 4.2m in 2012. Tourism expenditure per visitor has, however, risen over the same period, from US$678 per head in 2008 to US$762 in 2012.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100M2M4M6M
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia has traditionally relied on a combination of tourism and agricultural exports to drive its economy, but its once thriving banana export trade has declined in recent years, falling by over half between 2000 and 2007. The banana trade then recovered somewhat in 2008, the latest year for which data ARE available. The value of banana exports in 2008 was down 20 per cent on 2000 in real terms, although volumes had fallen by a smaller amount, 18 per cent. St Lucia had higher revenues from fossil fuel exports than bananas in 2008 - US$31m compared with US$22m - but the figures were less remarkable when compared WITH the rest of the Caribbean that year. St Lucia accounted for about a fifth of all Caribbean banana exports, its share of fuels exports was less than 1 per cent. Tourism has fared well, with visitor numbers growing steadily from 727,000 in 2000 to 984,000 in 2010, before a slight dip to 950,000 in the following year. GDP per capita fluctuated around its 2000 figure - US$5,014 - until 2005, before beginning an expansion which has seen figures for 2008 onwards settle around 15 per cent higher than 2000 levels.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100k500k1,000k1,500k
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Like neighbouring St Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines faces the challenge of replacing revenues from a previously thriving banana trade. In 2000 the islands brought in roughly a quarter of the Caribbean's banana export revenues, but by 2012 its share had fallen to just over 2 per cent. In the early part of the last decade it looked as though tourism revenues may be one way to fill the gap -- having risen from 256,000 in 2000 to 328,000 in 2007 -- but then the global recession took its toll. Visitor numbers fell to 200,000 by 2012, an overall drop of just over a fifth. The broader economy has been affected by the fall in tourism, but after shrinking for three successive years, GDP per capita rallied in 2011 and 2012 and, at US$6,498, it is now 28 per cent higher than its 2000 level.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100k100k200k300k400k
Source: World Tourism Organisation
Sint Maarten
The Dutch territory of Sint Maarten is among the least populous islands in the Caribbean but its small area gives it by far the highest population density in the region, at over 1,000 people per square mile. Tourism dominates its economy, with 85 per cent of the workforce employed in the sector according to the CIA World Factbook. Between 2000 and 2005 visitor numbers grew steadily from 1.3m to 2m, but a sharp drop in 2009 saw the total fall to 1.7m. Since then figures have rebounded and surpassed the previous peak, reaching 2.2m in 2012 with an average spend per tourist of US$386.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100M1M2M3M
Source: World Tourism Organisation
United States Virgin Islands
The US Virgin Islands enjoy a thriving tourism industry, with visitor numbers surpassing 2.5m in all but two years between 2004 and 2012. In 2012 the USVIs had total inbound tourism equivalent to 25 people per resident. Its tourism industry is healthy despite high rates of crime and imprisonment. The USVIs have the sixth highest homicide rate in the world, and second highest in the Caribbean behind Jamaica, with 39.2 homicides per 100,000 people. This figure has risen steadily from 22.1 per 100,000 in 2000. Incarceration is also high -- an estimated 530 prisoners per 100,000 people - the second highest in the Caribbean behind Cuba.
Country facts
Inbound tourism2000200520100M1M2M3M
Source: World Tourism Organisation

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