Tourism Projected To Decline 4.1%

The Bahamian travel and tourism industry is projected to contract by 4.1 per cent during 2010, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has projected, but its long-term projections for the sector's 3.4 per cent annualised growth over the next decade have been backed by leading industry figures.

The WTTC, in its annual economic report on the Bahamian travel and tourism industry, found that the sector's direct gross domestic product (GDP) impact was likely to contract by 0.6 per cent in 2010 as a result of the global recession, hitting $1.056 billion.

In real terms, its growth on a GDP basis for 2010 was projected to decline by 4.1 per cent to $3.402 billion, in terms of its overall impact on the Bahamian economy.

Direct employment numbers provided by the Bahamian travel and tourism industry were also forecast by the WTTC to decline slightly by 0.3 per cent to 32,000 jobs in 2010, with the total number of jobs dependent on the sector also falling by 2.3 per cent to 91,000.

However, the long-term projections for the Bahamian travel and tourism industry were far better, with the WTTC projecting that its direct impact for this nation's economy will grow by 3.4 per cent on an annual basis over the next 10 years to $1.684 billion.

In addition, the direct number of jobs provided by the industry was forecast to increase by 2.8 per cent on an annualised basis to strike 42,374 posts by 2020. Taking into account the total number of Bahamas-based jobs dependent on tourism, the WTTC survey predicted that these would grow at a rate of 2.8 per cent per year to reach 120,000 by 2020.

Robert Sands, the Bahamas Hotel Association's (BHA) president, told Tribune Business yesterday that while he had not seen the WTTC survey and its findings, there was "no question" that the hotel and tourism industry would increase in importance for the Bahamas in the medium-long term.

Apart from "business levels continuing to improve and working smarter", Mr Sands said the tourism industry and wider Bahamian economy would benefit from greater "import substitution", enhancing the ability of Bahamian businesses and entrepreneurs to supply goods and services to the sector, as well as improving workforce skills.

The BHA president said this would have a "multiplier" effect for the economy, adding: "The more Bahamian companies can use Bahamian entrepreneurs, the more successful our tourism industry can become, and the more economically stable our country will be.

"Creating small businesses and sustaining them, by and large, sustains countries in good and bad times."

The WTTC report said tourism would still account for 46.5 per cent or $3.402 billion of the Bahamian economy's GDP in 2010, and this percentage would rise by 3.4 percentage points to 49.9 per cent or $5.477 billion in 2020.

And employment generated by the travel and tourism industry and its spin-offs was projected to "rise from 56 per cent of total employment, 91,000 jobs or one in every 1.8 jobs in 2010, to 60.3 per cent of employment, 120,000 jobs or one in every 1.7 jobs by 2020".

And the WTTC projected that investment in the industry, pegged at $1.025 billion or 37.1 per cent of total investment in 2010, would increase to $1.702 billion or 41 per cent of total investment, by 2020.

The WTTC report found that the Bahamas was the 8th most reliant nation on tourism in the world, in relative terms, when it came to the sector's GDP contribution, and seventh most reliant when it came to the direct employment provided by the industry.

Source: The Tribune