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Tourism Revenues Represent over 30% of GDP in Some of the Region's Countries

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21 March 2011|Press Release

In Caribbean nations, the economic importance of tourism represents more than 16% of output.


Foto: Samir, Flickr

(18 March 2011) The island of Saint Lucia receives annual tourism revenues in excess of 31% of its gross domestic product (GDP), while in Bahamas and Antigua & Barbuda tourists spend the equivalent of 29% of these countries' GDP.

These three Caribbean nations top the list for the share of inbound visitor consumption in the region, according to data published today by ECLAC in its publication Latin America and the Caribbean: macroeconomic indicators for tourism (Cuadernos estadísticos de la CEPAL Nº 39).

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. This document shows the economic importance of this sector in a given country and assesses some of its main characteristics.

Although for Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole, tourism revenues represent 1.8% of GDP (period 1980-2008), for the Caribbean subregion in particular this percentage is 16.6%. In Central American countries, the average figure is 5% (1980-2009), while for some South American countries (such as Uruguay), the proportion was almost 4% for the same period.

The ECLAC report presents the main Latin American and Caribbean results of a project to formulate indicators for the macroeconomic analysis of tourism at the world level, which is being carried out in conjunction with the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations.

The macroeconomic indicators included in this document (which is only available online) relate to international tourism, which means revenues that a country receives for the export of tourist services (inbound tourism) and the spending carried out by the country's residents to import tourism services (outbound tourism).

In most Caribbean countries, indicators for the share of GDP represented by inbound visitor consumption (spending by non-residents) are highly significant. The figures for 2009 show that, in several countries, this proportion is around 30%. Meanwhile, about 50% of these countries' exports of goods and services would take the form of tourism-related "exports" (travel and passenger transportation account in the balance of payments).

For Central America, these indicators also point to the importance of tourism for these economies, where inbound visitor consumption represented around 10% of GDP in 2009 and about 20% of exports of goods and services.


The publication Latin America and the Caribbean: macroeconomic indicators for tourism is only available electronically in Spanish on the ECLAC website.
Any queries should be addressed to the ECLAC Public Information and Web Services Section.
E-mail:; Telephone: (56 2) 210 2040.