This paper investigates the determinants of tourism demand in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union. We estimate the demand function in a panel setting using annual data from 1979 to 2005. Results show that tourism arrivals are significantly affected by economic developments in the source countries, while price considerations and external shocks (such as hurricanes and wars) are also important. Supply factors, such as developments in foreign direct investment and the number of airlines servicing a destination, are also found to be significant determinants of tourism demand.
Tax concessions have been employed as a central component of the development strategy in the small island states comprising the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union. This paper compares the costs of concessions in terms of revenues forgone with the benefits in terms of increased foreign direct investment. The costs are very large, while the benefits appear to be marginal at best. Forgone tax revenues range between 9½ and 16 percent of GDP per year, whereas total foreign direct investment does not appear to depend on concessions. A rethinking of the use of concessions in the region is needed urgently.
The 2008 Article IV Consultation with Dominica discusses external competitiveness and key policy issues. The real effective exchange rate is broadly in line with macroeconomic fundamentals. Fiscal policy is appropriately focused on reducing high public debt. Plans for developing the tourist sector, including improving air access and roads to tourist attractions, are well advanced and should be financed with a view maintaining the sustainability of public debt. The authorities rightly emphasize improving the business climate, strengthening regulation and supervision of the financial sector, and improving disaster preparedness.
CARTAC, the second of the regional technical assistance centers, was created with singular emphasis on ownership of technical assistance by the beneficiary countries. To this end, it was structured as a UNDP project with the IMF as Executing Agency and with a Steering Committee empowered to give strategic guidance to the program and select its senior staff from short lists provided by the IMF. With the spread of the RTAC modality, the IMF has sought to bring the Centers' activities within the ambit of overall resource planning for technical assistance, ensure consistency with the institution's view on priorities for technical assistance in the countries concerned, and tighten quality control through backstopping. This has created the potential for conflict with the relative independence that CARTAC has enjoyed from its inception. The conclusion in this report, however, is that alignment with the IMF does not necessarily undermine country ownership and that the Steering Committee can play a pivotal role in defusing any tension that may arise.