The Barbados economy expanded by an estimated 0.5 percent during the first half of the year, thanks to an encouraging tourism performance. The foreign exchange market was almost in balance, with a slight dip in reserves recorded during the second quarter. The fiscal position is gradually improving, and with the additional fiscal measures announced in the Budget, the fiscal deficit is projected to be reduced further to 4 percent of GDP. Furthermore, the strong demand by private individuals for the recently issued Government Savings Bonds demonstrates a renewed confidence in Government securities.
The strong growth in long-stay visitors during the winter season continued into the second quarter of the year. Total arrivals rose by 14 percent by mid-year, with increases of 25 percent, 23 percent and 14 percent from the US, Canadian and UK markets, respectively.
Tourism value-added rose by an estimated 3 percent for the first half of 2015, although visitors’ stay was shorter on average. Expenditure by tourists is estimated to have risen by 5 percent.
Barbados remains highly competitive in the delivery of its travel and tourism product, ranking 7th in the Americas and 1st in the Caribbean in the latest edition of the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report. Barbados was assessed as having an enabling business environment, a robust human resource base and labour market, and good infrastructural support to the tourism sector, relative to its competitors in the Americas.
At the end of June, the foreign reserves stood at $968 million, which is equivalent to 14.4 weeks of import cover and in excess of the 12-week benchmark of goods and services imports.
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