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ECLAC: Bahamas 2009 tourism spend 29%of GDP

Tourism spend in the country in 2009 totaled$2.58 billion according to a United Nations report, the equivalent of 29 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product(GDP).

The United Nations report was comprised by the United Nations’Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean(ECLAC), entitled’Latin America and the Caribbean: Macroeconomic Indicators for Tourism’. It said The Bahamas is in the top three in the region in terms of tourism spend to GDP. St. Lucia tops the list at 31%and Antigua and Barbuda equals The Bahamas at 29%.

“The tourist sector plays a crucial role in many of the region’s economies, in terms of job creation and production, as well as currency generation,”said a statement attached with the report.

The macroeconomic indicators in the report relate to international tourism, referring to revenue that a country receives for the export of tourist services(inbound tourism)and the spending carried out by residents to import tourism services(outbound tourism).

Although the tourism spend was among the highest in the region during 2009, measuring the amount of domestic spending would provide a better gauge of actual revenue, according to financial analyst Kenwood Kerr.

“On the flip side of[high tourism spend], there are too many leakages, meaning for example 80 cents out of every dollar made goes out of the country to service the tourism spending money for food and other related items,”Kerr said.”If those figures were provided then we would have a clearer sense of what revenues are like.”

According to the report, tourism revenues for Latin America and the Caribbean represent 1.8 percent of GDP. Specifically for the Caribbean sub-region, it reflects 16.6 percent.The Bahamas’tourism sector improved year-on-year in 2010, with an 18 percent increase in cruise arrivals compared to 2009. The latest data compiled by the Ministry of Tourism revealed figures for the first 10 months of 2010, during which air arrivals increased 4.1 percent compared to last year with nearly 45,000 additional visitors traveling to the country.

Grand Bahama experienced a 41 percent year-to-date increase in air arrivals, which could be attributed to the 55 percent rise in visitors coming by cruise ships. It was the largest growth for any island during that period, with Nassau seeing a 10.8 percent improvement in that category.

The Bahamas also recorded over 5 million visitors for the second time in history in 2010.

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