Study: Hurricanes Resulted in About 826,100 Fewer Visitors to Caribbean

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands was one of the destinations hit the hardest by last year's hurricane season. // Photo by SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched a report on “Resilience and Recovery,” assessing the 2017 hurricane season’s immediate and long-term effects across the Caribbean

Analysis from Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics subsidiary, found that “Travel & Tourism” is one of the most important economic sectors in the Caribbean, contributing 15.2 percent of the Caribbean’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 13.8 percent of employment. 

However, in around half of the countries analyzed, the sector accounts for more than 25 percent of GDP – more than double the world average of 10.4 percent, according to the study. 

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The 46.7 million international visitors who visited the region in 2016 spent $31.4 billion, which supported 2.4 million jobs. The 2017 hurricane season resulted in an estimated loss of of 826,100 visitors to the Caribbean, compared to pre-hurricane forecasts, according to the study.  

These visitors would have generated $741 million and supported 11,005 jobs. Research suggests that recovery to previous levels could take up to four years, resulting in an estimated loss of $3 billion, according to the WTTC. 

“Quantifying the impact on Travel & Tourism post-crisis provides a level of understanding of the enormous economic contribution that the sector brings to the region and the impetus for recovery,” according to a statement release by the WTTC. “Natural disasters will continue to hit the Caribbean, perhaps on an increasingly frequent basis as a result of climate change. 

“As the economies of islands grow ever more reliant on the sector, it is critical that governments and destination management organizations develop strategies to minimize the long-term impact of natural disasters and encourage visitor spending to return to pre-hurricane levels of growth.”

Visit www.wttc.org

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