A steeper-than-expected contraction in petroleum output and an irregular citrus blossom held GDP growth to 6.0% in the first quarter as compared to the 7.8% increase recorded in the first quarter of 2011. The outturn reflected continued buoyancy in tourism, a rebound in sugar and banana as well as an upsurge in electricity production. Banana output rose by 32.0% due to the rehabilitation of storm-damaged acreages and favorable agronomic conditions. Sugarcane deliveries and, by extension, sugar production rose by 55.4% and 40.7%, respectively, as the cogeneration plant benefitted from its first full quarter of uninterrupted operations since coming on-stream three years ago. BELCOGEN’s improved performance coupled with production increases from BECOL accounted for the 74.7% escalation in domestic output of electricity. Bolstered by an aggressive marketing campaign, the tourism sector maintained upward momentum even in the face of headwinds from a protracted recovery in the US. Stayover visitors returned to the pre-crisis levels of 2008 with a 6.2% increase during the first quarter. Hotel revenues consequently posted a solid gain of 16.3%, while cruise arrivals increased by 7.2%. The ripple effects of higher acquisition costs for petroleum and related products underpinned a 0.5% rise in quarterly CPI (November 2011 to February 2012) and resulted in a year-on-year (February 2011 to February 2012) annual inflation of 1.9%

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