World Bank officials discuss global economic prospects for the Caribbean

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Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Caribbean News Service

The Caribbean Country Director of the World Bank, Lilia Burunciuc, Tuesday warned that Caribbean countries were “lagging behind” regarding the development of the tourism industry.

Lilia Burunciuc told an online webinar that discussed “Global Economic Prospects for Small States” that even when an examination is made of the tourism sector in the region ” the Caribbean (countries) are lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of the growth of this sector.

“Actually, the growth of the tourist sector in the Caribbean is lower than average of the tourist sector in the world, which means that probably the current model has exhausted its potential and the region needs to think about doing significant restructuring of the way tourism is being done in the Caribbean so that the sector continues to grow and the sector brings more revenue and more jobs to the people in the Caribbean,” she added.

The statement by the World Bank officials follows the announcement last week by the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) predicting that visitor arrivals to the region this year will surpass the pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic figures as the Caribbean recorded a significant increase in tourist arrivals last year.

CTO acting Secretary General, Neil Walters, told a news conference that nearly 90 per cent of the region’s travel demand for 2019 has already been recovered and some destinations have already passed their pandemic levels.

“When compared to 2022, it is expected that overall arrivals to the region will increase by between 10 and 15 per cent. This means that between 31.2 and 32.6 million tourist can be expected to visit the region this year (and) thus arrivals this year might surpass pre-pandemic levels,” he told reporters.

The World Bank said that the Caribbean’s diverse economic features share attributes that make them especially vulnerable to shocks, including dependence on imports of essential goods, highly concentrated economies, elevated levels of debt, reliance on external financing, and susceptibility to natural disasters and climate change.

The Washington-based financial institution said that given that the region is expected to see a slowdown in growth, with an estimated 5. 6 per cent growth in 2023 and 5.7 per cent in 2024, compared to 7.7 per cent last year, there is a need for policies to boost investment growth, tailored to country circumstances but also include comprehensive fiscal and structural reforms, including the repurposing of expenditure on inefficient subsidies.

Earlier, the senior economist at the World Bank’s Chief Economist Office, Dana Vorisek, told the webinar that small states like the Caribbean are highly vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricanes, droughts, earthquakes, and even volcanic eruptions.

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