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Tourist spending remains ‘flat’ despite increase in arrivals

Tourist spending remains ‘flat’ despite increase in arrivals

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The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines needs to take a closer look at the type of tourist it is attracting and marketing to. This according to Norlann Gabriel, country manager at First Citizens Investment Services SVG.

Gabriel made the statement at the company’s {{more}}annual Market Outlook Seminar, held last Thursday, April 9, while delivering her address on this country’s economic overview.

She explained that of all the sectors, tourism is “by far” the largest contributor to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and that although overall tourist arrivals have increased, there has not been a corresponding increase in tourist expenditure.

“Even though arrivals are going in the right direction, the expenditure is remaining pretty flat,” she said. “Our tourists are being very cautious with their dollars!”

Gabriel also pointed out that since 2005, there has been a steady decline in the number of regional visitors coming to SVG.

“Our largest source market is the Caribbean; it is also the market that we are seeing the most drastic decline in our arrivals… that can be attributed to the high cost of regional travel… it’s cheaper for a regional traveller to get to Miami or New York City, versus coming to a Caribbean island.”

From the same point in time up to 2014, visitor numbers from the USA have declined, but now plateaued; visitor numbers from the UK have fluctuated, but are increasing slightly; and visitors from Canada have remained at a consistent level.

Gabriel noted that the Canadian market should be a “key” market that our Government focuses its “tourism efforts” on because there is more disposable income there.

Additionally, Gabriel’s address also looked at growth in the agriculture, wholesale and retail, hotels and restaurants, and construction sectors, and the opportunities and constraints in store for SVG in 2015 and beyond.

In particular, she looked at the current trade balance – pointing out that it has steadily been getting worse over the years, with us importing far more than we export.

In 2014, imports totalled $712.5 million, while exports were just $96.7 million.

Also delivering presentations at the seminar were Trinidadian Kris Sookdeo, an analyst within First Citizens research department, and St Lucian Carole Eleuthere Jn Marie, regional manager of First Citizens Investment Services (OECS and Barbados).

Other key issues looked at were global/regional overview, regional stock market performance, Eastern Caribbean Security Exchange highlights, investment prospects, analysis of 2014 market performance, and projections for 2015.(JSV)

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