One response to “Creative industries: a window of opportunity”

  1. Mick England

    I sincerely hope that the wealth of cultural output from the region, epitomised by the images of Bob Marley and Rihanna, can be an engine for economic growth. A tough ask, especially (as Keith himself points out) given the fact that the Caribbean actually imports more ‘creative’ merchandise (such as CDs) than it exports.
    Keith highlights the creative industry’s strong cross-promotional linkages with tourism, which he describes as “a key driver of the economy with the largest share of GDP, export earnings and employment.”

    The problem is that Caribbean tourism is dominated by a network of foreign multinational corporations, which makes the regulation of the industry virtually impossible due to the threat of relocation to a more lax environment. This is especially the case when it comes to matters of taxation. For example, a 2006 CARIFORUM study of the Caribbean tourism industry lamented that the project was “hindered by a lack of willingness by hoteliers in the region to share data” pertaining to issues of taxation and operating costs. Given the reluctance of the hotels to share such information it can be assumed that they were seeking to avoid making the terms of their concessions public.

    The disconnect between the Caribbean’s reliance on tourism and the sector’s contribution to the region’s economic base via taxation is demonstrated by the fact that tourism provides anywhere from one to three quarters of a country’s income, yet tax revenue from hotel accommodation for example ranges from 0.5 to 3.2 percent of national GDP.

    Due to the all-inclusive enclave structure of much of the Caribbean’s tourism industry, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (see the UNEP “Negative Economic Impacts of Tourism”) the region leads the world in tourism “leakage” with an estimated 80 percent of the money spent by tourists ending up leaving the region via foreign owned hotels, operators, airlines, imported food and drinks, and so on. The lack of regulation discourages the creation of much needed linkages with the local economy and job creation for farmers, food processors and artisans. Thus, due to the uneven nature of the Caribbean’s tourism industry, out of 12 global regions, the 2014 World Travel and Tourism Council ranked the Caribbean as the most dependent on tourism (based on contribution to GDP in 2013).

    I hope Keith’s call for the Caribbean’s creative industries to “offer scope for innovation, economic diversification and global competitiveness”, particularly as he says in the digital market, bears fruit.