International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
The St. Lucian economy is confronted with significant challenges from consecutive external shocks. While still recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to an output collapse in 2020 and 2021 mainly due to a halt in tourism, the war in Ukraine is adding inflation and balance of payments pressures given the dependence on fuel and food imports.
This paper improves short-term forecasting models of monthly tourism arrivals by estimating and evaluating a time-series model with exogenous regressors (ARIMA-X) using a case of Aruba, a small open tourism-dependent economy. Given importance of the US market for Aruba, it investigates informational value of Google Searches originating in the USA, flight capacity utilization on the US air-carriers, and per capita demand of the US consumers, given the volatility index in stock markets (VIX). It yields several insights. First, flight capacity is the best variable to account for the travel restrictions during the pandemic. Second, US real personal consumption expenditure becomes a more significnat predictor than income as the former better captured impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on the consumers’ behavior, while income boosted by the pandemic fiscal support was not fully directed to spending. Third, intercept correction improves the model in the estimation period. Finally, the pandemic changed econometric relationships between the tourism arrivals and their main determinants, and accuracy of the forecast models. Going forward, the analysts should re-estimate the models. Out-of-sample forecasts with 5 percent confidence intervals are produced for 18 months ahead.
The Andorran economy is recovering strongly from the pandemic, supported by a rebound in tourism, retail trade, construction, and professional services. Real GDP is expected to reach pre-crisis levels in the second half of 2022. While the unemployment rate is amongst the lowest in Europe and continues to decline, pockets of vulnerability remain. Notwithstanding significant policy buffers, there are still substantial downside risks, notably the impact in Europe of the war in Ukraine, higher than expected inflation, and a resurgence of infection rates.
The fallout from the COVID-19 crisis has hit the Maltese economy hard, particularly its large tourism sector. Using fiscal buffers accumulated prior to the pandemic, the authorities have taken swift actions to support households, businesses, and the healthcare system. With the rapid rollout of COVID-19 vaccine, the economy has reopened for the summer tourism season. While the outlook is surrounded by a high degree of uncertainty, the Maltese economy is expected to rebound by 5¾ percent this year, up from -7¾ percent in 2020. The financial system has remained stable. In late June 2021, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) put Malta under increased monitoring due to concerns about effectiveness of its anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) framework.
The Icelandic economy has been severely affected by the pandemic. Sharp tourism contraction and containment measures caused real GDP to plummet by 6.6 percent in 2020. A modest recovery will take hold in 2021. Recovery prospects in the tourism sector depend on control of the epidemic and progress in global and domestic vaccine distribution, spelling a challenging outlook with possibly deep medium-term scarring. Fiscal policy should continue to support the economy for now. Policy buffers accumulated over the last decade provided space for a large fiscal support and accommodated substantial automatic stabilizers. Additional stimulus is planned in 2021 to address still large slack in the economy, mitigate scarring, and provide confidence in the event of downside risks. Medium-term policies should ensure that public debt is firmly on a downward path, while limiting the drag on growth.
The widespread availability of internet search data is a new source of high-frequency information that can potentially improve the precision of macroeconomic forecasting, especially in areas with data constraints. This paper investigates whether travel-related online search queries enhance accuracy in the forecasting of tourist arrivals to The Bahamas from the U.S. The results indicate that the forecast model incorporating internet search data provides additional information about tourist flows over a univariate approach using the traditional autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model and multivariate models with macroeconomic indicators. The Google Trends-augmented model improves predictability of tourist arrivals by about 30 percent compared to the benchmark ARIMA model and more than 20 percent compared to the model extended only with income and relative prices.
Using data from 1980-2017, this paper estimates a Global VAR (GVAR) model taylored for the Caribbean region which includes its major trading partners, representing altogether around 60 percent of the global economy. We provide stilyzed facts of the main interrelations between the Caribbean region and the rest of the world, and then we quantify the impact of external shocks on Caribbean countries through the application of two case studies: i) a change in the international price of oil, and ii) an increase in the U.S. GDP. We confirmed that Caribbean countries are highly exposed to external factors, and that a fall in oil prices and an increase in the U.S. GDP have a positive and large impact on most of them after controlling for financial variables, exchange rate fluctuations and overall price changes. The results from the model help to disentangle effects from various channels that interact at the same time, such as flows of tourists, trade of goods, and changes in economic conditions in the largest economies of the globe.
Mr. Sebastian Acevedo Mejia, Mr. Trevor Serge Coleridge Alleyne, and Rafael Romeu
The Cuban revolution and the subsequent US embargo on Cuba helped shape the tourism sector in the Caribbean, facilitating the birth and growth of alternative destinations. Therefore, the apprehension of the Caribbean tourism industry towards a change in US travel policy to Cuba is understandable, but likely unwarranted. The history of tourism in the region has shown that it is possible for all destinations to grow despite large changes in market shares. Our estimations show that liberalizing US-Cuba tourism could result in US arrivals to Cuba of between 3 and 5.6 million, most of it coming from new tourists to the region. We also identify the destinations most at risk of changes in US-Cuba relations.
Mr. Sebastian Acevedo Mejia, Lu Han, Miss Marie S Kim, and Ms. Nicole Laframboise
This paper studies the role of airlift supply on the tourism sector in the Caribbean. The paper examines the relative importance of U.S.-Caribbean airlift supply factors such as the number of flights, seats, airlines, and departure cities on U.S. tourist arrivals. The possible endogeneity problem between airlift supply and tourist arrivals is addressed by using a structural panel VAR and individual country VARs. Among the four airlift supply measures, increasing the number of flights is found to be the most effective way to boost tourist arrivals on a sustained basis. As a case study, the possible crowding effect of increasing the number of U.S. flights to Cuba is investigated and, based on past observations, we find no significant impact on flights to other Caribbean countries. The impact of natural disasters on airlift supply and tourist arrivals is also quantified.