Tourism and Development in Caribbean-EU Relations: Bridging the Gap Between Policy and Practice
The contribution of tourism to the Caribbean regional economy is impressive: according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism indirectly accounts for around 10% of total employment in the region, 12% of GDP, and 18% of regional exports. As the top contributor to the region’s GDP, the tourism sector has a direct impact on employment and development prospects in the region.
Furthermore, the tourism sector provides a good opportunity to counter the effects of preference erosion on the competitiveness of traditional Caribbean agricultural goods exports to the European market. The Caribbean region can play on its unique natural endowments to tap into a relatively high value added industry and shift to a service based economy. However, the growth of the tourism industry is not without
drawbacks: critics have pointed out its lack of links to the poorest segments of the population and the risk it presents to the environment.
The European Union (EU) increasingly recognises the potential of the private sector and tourism in the achievement of development objectives. In practice however, both the European Union and Caribbean official institutions still seem to have problems in tapping the development potential of tourism. The aim of this background note is (1) to highlight current EU policies and their linkages to private sector development and tourism (2) to illustrate some of the gaps between policies and concrete practice and (3) to indicate some possible ways forward.