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Rising oil prices could impact tourism

Rising international crude oil prices could hinder recovery in the tourism sector, but factors related to the rising costs could bring some benefits as well, according to former Minister of Finance James Smith.

“We were afraid this was going to happen,”Smith toldGuardian Businessyesterday.”Everything is affected by the oil prices and it certainly could have a dampening effect on the recovery of the tourism industry. But on the other hand, if the unrest continues, the chances are it could cut down travel[outside the region].

“We just have to watch and see.”

Smith’s comments come after crude oil prices soared over the weekend and increased 6 percent on Tuesday, reaching as high as$98 per barrel according to CNN. The recent surge is related to the civil unrest in Libya, which some observers fear could spread to other oil-producing countries.

“Consumers will take a hit from this,”Smith said.”But this could work out in our favor because if cruise prices and airfare prices go up, then our tourist base–which is primarily visitors from the U.S.–would be more inclined to travel closer to home and we could see an uptick from that.”

Managing Director of Freeport Oil Holdings Company Limited(FOCOL)Anthony Robinson declined to predict what impact the rising prices will have on Bahamians.”I have no idea where this is heading and we just have to see what happens,”Robinson toldGuardian Businessyesterday.

Gas station owners were also put on notice that prices are expected to rise, with an owner tellingGuardian Businessunder the condition of anonymity that he received a letter from his fuel supplier informing him of the upcoming price increases.

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