Tourism's Multi-faceted Economic Contributions and its Linkages to Other Sectors
In my last issue I discussed the importance of tourism as it relates to other industries. Now let us look at some of tourism's economic benefits to Belize. The strong linkages of tourism with other economic sectors, should be the key in realizing that tourism is a powerful factor for economic growth and employment.
This can clearly be seen by the nature of tourism needs, that is to say, as an industry it call for goods and services such as: transportation, food, fuel, water and electricity, crafts, tour services, entertainment, communication, etc. These linkages have always had a positive economic impact in the country to which it serves, because of every dollar spent in the sector. Of course tourism not only benefits the private sector but contributes significantly to government revenues in the form of sales, business, corporate, personal, departure and of course, import levies.
Tourism's contribution to Belize's economy from past figures, show that some 21% to 23% of the country's total GDP is from tourism. This is taking into account tourism strong linkages with other sectors. Well over 19,000 jobs directly and indirectly are a result of tourism and almost 25% of Belize's total foreign exchange earnings, which represent some $75 million dollars. One of the very interesting facts to keep in mind about the tourism industry is that it can bring about employment and revenues to often remote and otherwise under developed areas, which currently do not benefit from any form of economic activity.
While, tourism might be the only choice of shoring up ailing economies it certainly has many imperfections. Many times these imperfections are looked upon as "negative impacts." These impacts can be social, political or economical. For example; in the economical aspect, tourism is said to bring in large sums of foreign exchange, but little is said about what is spent outside of Belize in order to meet tourism needs or the actual amounts lost on the black market. Exchanges houses which operate openly, are very evident to this in Belize. An over dependency on tourism could lead to political decisions, like the overbuilding of infrastructure, which could place burdens on the national recurrent and capital accounts. An excellent example of this was and still is, whether to have the existing runway at the Philip Goldson International Airport expanded . It is largely felt that this expansion could bring in more visitors. The cost associated with this must be looked at very carefully and the expenditure justified. In my next issue I will discuss Belizeans true participation in tourism. "Tourism we make it happen"
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