Thu 26th Oct 2017


Tourism versus tuna fishing and canning industry in SVG

On Thursday 20 October 2017, Gonsalves told the people of SVG on local TV that cruise ship arrivals in SVG for 2017 and 2018 will be doubled. If this is true, it is clearly not a long-term increase, but due only to the hurricane damage to Caribbean countries such as Dominica.

Income to SVG from cruise ships is very low. Gonsalves has not told the people of SVG the estimated amount of revenue this supposed increase in cruise ships will bring to the SVG Treasury. Perhaps it is too low to mention.

Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal, who has an MSc degree in Macro-Economics, Budgeting, Planning and Policy from Bradford University, England, very strongly contends that tourism cannot sustain the SVG economy and should not be the engine of the SVG economy. It is killing our economy.

In order to lift the SVG dead economy off the ground, SVG should use its Atlantic Ocean tuna fishing licence and create a tuna fishing and canning industry for exporting. This could create revenue of about EC$2 billion annually and this revenue would be long-term and sustainable.

This economic variable can bring a very high yield in revenue and job creation, much more than tourism could.

It is worth noting that about EC$1.5 billion was thrown away on the Argyle airport in the name of boosting tourism, yet the increase in tourist in SVG is apparently coming by cruise ships, and not the $1.5 billion Argyle airport.

After 16 years of the ULP regime in power in SVG and 16 years of fiscal deficits, it is clear that tourism is not the answer for SVG. The insane reliance on tourism as the engine of the SVG economy, does not offer businesses confidence and that is a major negative factor in SVG.

Whereas, having a tuna fishing and canning industry provides a constant source of revenue and jobs, as there is always demand for fish at relatively stable prices. This would give businesses confidence in our economy.

SVG should cut ties with Taiwan and create ties with China and use SVG’s deep-sea tuna fishing licence to set up a joint-venture, tuna fishing industry.

As in Zanzibar, a tuna fishing and canning industry will create hundreds of new jobs in secondary industries such as ice-making plants, cold-storage services, boat-building yards, workshops to make fishing nets and engine repair and maintenance workshops.

All this talk about an increase in cruise ship arrivals is insignificant in terms of how much revenue the country will get. SVG has had tourism for decades, but still SVG has a high debt to GDP ratio and Gonsalves is begging for debt relief.

In terms of economic development, the ULP regime is making the same mistakes year after year. The big gamble on tourism has not paid-off; it has not stimulated economic growth nor a huge increase in employment.

Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal believes that SVG needs a change in government and a change in economic strategy, and more critically, a government that is competent in managing SVG’s public accounts and has the ability to create cash cows for sustainable revenue.

Tourism is not the answer for our country: SVG needs a tuna fishing and canning industry.


< Back to Articles