This paper studies the economic costs of hurricanes in the Caribbean by constructing a novel dataset that combines a detailed record of tropical cyclones’ characteristics with reported damages. I estimate the relation between hurricane wind speeds and damages in the Caribbean; finding that the elasticity of damages to GDP ratio with respect to maximum wind speeds is three in the case of landfalls. The data show that hurricane damages are considerably underreported, particularly in the 1950s and 1960s, with average damages potentially being three times as large as the reported average of 1.6 percent of GDP per year. I document and show that hurricanes that do not make landfall also have considerable negative impacts on the Caribbean economies. Finally, I estimate that the average annual hurricane damages in the Caribbean will increase between 22 and 77 percent by the year 2100, in a global warming scenario of high CO2 concentrations and high global temperatures.
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.
This consultation paper explains that in addition to the adverse impact of the global slowdown and higher commodity prices, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been hit by two successive natural disasters in the last 12 months. As a result, real GDP has been contracted by a cumulative 4.7 percent since 2007 and is expected to remain slightly negative this year. Growth is expected to improve gradually toward its potential, but significant downside risks remain, largely related to developments in the global economy.
An opening of Cuba to U.S. tourism would represent a seismic shift in the Caribbean's tourism industry. This study models the impact of such a potential opening by estimating a counterfactual that captures the current bilateral restriction on tourism between the two countries. After controlling for natural disasters, trade agreements, and other factors, the results show that a hypothetical liberalization of Cuba-U.S. tourism would increase long-term regional arrivals. Neighboring destinations would lose the implicit protection the current restriction affords them, and Cuba would gain market share, but this would be partially offset in the short-run by the redistribution of non-U.S. tourists currently in Cuba. The results also suggest that Caribbean countries have in general not lowered their dependency on U.S. tourists, leaving them vulnerable to this potential change.