Tourists at a beach in Barbados.

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The Caribbean’s Travel & Tourism sector is recovering at a faster rate than any other region in the world, according to new research from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The WTTC said that Caribbean’s Travel & Tourism contribution to GDP is expected to rise more than 47 per cent this year, compared to just 30.7 per cent globally.

WTTC, which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector, said the recovery of the sector globally has been hindered by the lack of international coordination, severe travel restrictions and slower vaccination rates.

However, the Caribbean is now benefiting from more relaxed restrictions around the world and low infection rates, which is in turn boosting international travel spend and aiding the region’s swift economic recovery.

“While the global economy is set to receive a modest 30.7 per cent year on year increase from Travel & Tourism in 2021, representing USD 1.4 trillion and is mainly driven by domestic spending, the Caribbean region can expect a year-on-year increase of 47.3 per cent, representing an increase of nearly USD 12 billion, driven by both international and domestic travel spend,” the WTTC stated.

“However, while the Caribbean is recovering faster than other regions, this is still below its performance in 2019, a record year for the sector, where Travel & Tourism represented more than 14 per cent of the region’s GDP contributing more than USD 58 billion to its economy,” it stated.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO said: “Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic stole almost a quarter of all Travel & Tourism jobs from the region but due to a significant increase in international and domestic spend, both jobs and GDP are on the rise.”

In response Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell said:

“Recall that in, T&T, following lock downs across the world relative to the movement of people – ergo, the virtual shut down of the travel and tourism industry, close to $15 billion of indirect contribution by the travel and tourism to GDP was wiped out; close to 34,000 jobs were adversely impacted.”

Mitchell said every destination in the world with a travel and tourism sector has seen such a negative impact to its GDP on account of the pandemic.

“So yes, it stands to reason that the re-start, the reopening of the travel and tourism sectors will again begin to fill the economic value gap caused by the pandemic. Thankfully for us in T&T, we have had other sectors, the energy sector, the manufacturing sector, and the agricultural sector that continued to employ persons and produce during this difficult period,” he said.

“We look forward and in doing so, prepare ourselves for the safe reopening and restart of travel and tourism where jobs can be added and businesses in those sectors flourish again,” Mitchell said