Caribbean concerned about uncertainty in Middle East

A war in Iraq will impact negatively on the Caribbean tourism sectorå‘s recovery efforts, Jean Holder, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has said.
“The one thing that we know is that if there is a war all of this, (optimism about a recovery), could change especially as you would be adding war to a weak global economy and an airline situation that is near disastrous,” Mr. Holder told the BBC in a recent interview.

Visitor arrivals to the Caribbean
fell during the 1991 Gulf War. It was only the third such time that the region had experienced negative growth; the oil crisis of the 1970s and the global economic recession of the 1980s being the other times.

“A war there would not only increase the atmosphere of uncertainty for all travellers, but would raise the price of oil, (now US$33.00 a barrel), and an airline fuel bill, (now US $40 billion), to even higher levels. This would push a number of already struggling airlines over the edge,” said Mr. Holder.
The WTO reports that international tourism in 2002 passed the 700 million mark for the first time ever, and against all the predictions of gloom grew by 22 million more than in 2001. But it stated that of all the regions in the world, only the Americas remained in the red, and among the Americas, the Caribbean was down three percent on the 2001 performance.