Fri 9th Nov 2012

Tourism can never be the engine of the SVG economy

Tourism in SVG will go down over the next decade and beyond. The reality is that people in richer countries have to make cut backs, save money to pay for the basics and put away dreams of luxuries such as holidays.

In the USA Today, a survey noted that 47 per cent of Americans will give up international travel in favour of staying in the states due to airfare costs. In another survey of US consumer spending, over 40% of respondents said they will not take a vacation at all this year.

It is clearly madness then, to try to run the SVG economy on tourism, when tourism is on a long downward slide. Unemployment is high in SVG and our people need jobs. Tourism cannot, and will never be able to, offer our people long-term, high-paid jobs and prosperity.

It is hard to ignore the fact that we live in America's backyard. When America goes down, we go down - the fact is America is going down.

The US labour force participation rate, defined as the percentage of Americans who either have a job or are looking for one, fell to 63.5% in August 2012, the lowest in 31 years since September 1981.

America is going to take a long time to recover from its serious recession, and SVG cannot stand still while America tries to get back on its feet. It may be 10 to 15 years before ordinary Americans regain some semblance of prosperity, but our people need jobs now.

The ULP regime has not put forward a coherent strategy to create jobs for our people, probably because they don't have one. Since 2001, they have been begging and borrowing and all they have achieved is high unemployment. Also, the SVG economy continues to get weaker, and more and more families are being pushed in to poverty.

In richer countries, technology is the engine of the economy, not tourism. A Green government will put technology at the heart of the SVG economy to make it strong. Tourism has failed in SVG, and tourism too in the Caribbean region in general, has no hope of bringing prosperity.

With a strong economy based on technology, our people will not have to wait for the recession in America to end to get high-paid, long-term jobs. With a strong economy based on technology, our country has a better chance of staying strong, even when there are future economic downturns in America.

Technology will give our nation economic independence from America, and protect us from the frailties and dependence that are inherent with tourism.

Our children deserve a prosperous future and science and technology can bring them a prosperous future. However, as a nation, we must be pro-active in making this happen. This means having a coherent strategy to create a strong economy and revenue for the SVG Treasury.

The ULP regime cannot revive the SVG economy with tourism, because people from rich countries have no money and have cut back on travelling. SVG Green Party believes in modernising the SVG economy, so that it is based on science and technology and driven by exports with factories utilising our indigenous resources; and, we believe in starting that change now.

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