IDB: Rising US COVID-19 cases a concern for tourism-dependent countries

IDB: Rising US COVID-19 cases a concern for tourism-dependent countries
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) logo

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The persistently high daily COVID-19 case rate in the United States — a key tourism source market for countries like The Bahamas — remains a concern, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has noted, adding that data suggests that future travel to such tourism-dependent countries through 2021 could remain 40 to 75 percent below 2019 levels.

According to a new report by the IDB entitled “A Pandemic Surge and Evolving Policy Responses”, which is part of its Quarterly Bulletin Series, Caribbean economies will need more aggressive fiscal actions to protect their productive assets and invest in ways that ensure more sustainable growth in the future.

“Internet search data suggest that future travel for the rest of 2020 and through 2021 will remain 40 to 75 percent below 2019 levels in Barbados, The Bahamas and Jamaica,” the IDB noted.

It added: “A major caveat, however, is that people might respond with last-minute bookings as health circumstances evolve in both source and destination countries. The response is likely to depend on the evolution and distribution of a vaccine and a better understanding of how sanitary measures reduce the risk of infection, particularly in airplanes and airports.”

The IDB report continued: “The persistently highly daily case rate in the United States is of concern, since it is such an important source of tourist arrivals in the Caribbean. While there are a wide variety of case counts across the US, only about two or three states are currently experiencing new case rates below 10 per 100,000 population.”

COVID-19 cases are reportedly on the rise in all 50 states as new restrictions and lockdowns sweep across the country.

The IDB report further noted that COVID-19 is having a severe impact on the Bahamian economy.

“The pandemic has resulted in a major fall in tourism arrivals since March 2020. Total tourism arrivals contracted 61.9 percent on a year-to-date basis as of August, compared to a 13.2 percent increase in the same period of 2019, while total room nights sold fell by 70.5 percent in August 2020 compared to August 2019,” it stated.

“The economy is expected to contract at least 12.5 percent in 2020. However, the contraction will likely be more severe and will depend on the successful control of the pandemic, when tourism activity can resume and how quickly the domestic economy can reopen.”