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Sep 30, 2008

Tourism industry hit by U.S. financial crisis

Story PictureIf you’ve been paying attention to the U.S. media, you would not have missed the fact that the U.S. is in the midst of a financial crisis. Banks, brokerage houses and mortgage companies are going belly up and as the system threatens to collapse, lawmakers are frantically debating bailout. On Monday when a seven hundred billion dollar plan failed to pass in the House of Representatives, the stock market plummeted seven hundred points, the biggest drop in twenty-one years. And while you may be thinking “why’s this making our newscast?”, any economist will tell you that what happens economically in America affects countries the world round. Today we asked Minister of Finance, Prime Minister Dean Barrow what repercussions if any would be felt in Belize.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“I am sure that there will be generalized fallout, but tourism is certainly the sector that is going to be directly affected and of course that’s our largest foreign exchange earner. So that’s hitting us where we live, hitting us where it hurts. I think we’ve already begun to experience some of those repercussions. I don’t think it’s any secret that our tourism arrivals are down and I think that’s a direct consequence of what’s happening in the U.S. The U.S. is our primary market for tourism flows and undoubtedly what has been happening there has had an effect on our tourism with this resultant decrease in visitor flows. Clearly we will have to step up our game of marketing of being attractive, in terms of marketing, in terms of being attractive. So investments will have to be made to make our product far more competitive than it is given the new dynamics. That’s certainly I think one of the directions of in which government and the country will need to go. One has to wait and see what’s going to happen with banking. It is worrying when there are bank failures in the U.S., but I think where that is concerned, it is more to Belizean businesses and individuals that operate accounts in the U.S. So far the bank failures have not appeared to be a widespread phenomenon, but some major banks have already gone under and been take over by some other banks and I suspect to a limited extent is could be affecting individuals and businesses in this country, but the effect of that is far harder to guage.”

According to Barrow, the Ministry of Tourism has come up with a blue print for the way forward and that consultations are currently taking place with stakeholders to finalize the document.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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