CBB monitoring potential economic fallout from coronavirus
Central Bank Governor, Cleviston Haynes has said Barbados is keeping a close eye on the unfolding health crisis in China which has garnered global attention in recent weeks.
Countries around the globe, have been implementing measures to ensure their citizens are not adversely affected by the coronavirus. In Wuhan, China which is the epicenter of the viral outbreak, more than 7,000 persons have been infected and close to 200 persons have died as a result of the illness.
Speaking to the media at the quarterly economic review earlier this week, Governor Haynes said Barbados remains volatile to external threats and the coronavirus is one such threat which must be taken seriously by governments.
“Because we are a small open economy, we are exposed to several risks … such as the coronavirus and therefore it is something that we have to monitor. At this stage it is difficult for us to gauge the full impact, we would hope that it can be contained. There is that risk that if it spreads that it could hurt global tourism.”
According to the CBB, Barbados' tourism sector saw an increase of three per cent for 2019- the fifth consecutive year of growth. Long stay arrivals grew by 3.5 per cent, supported by an increase in airlift and further penetration in the US and UK markets. Cruise passenger arrivals recovered in the last quarter of 2019 which resulted in an overall one per cent in growth.
Haynes said the virus spreading to other countries will be a huge hit for global tourism.
“… some airlines are no longer going to travel to China so that is part of the global tourism that is being impacted. If it [virus] spreads its net widely then all markets could be impacted, not least, our own. Not necessarily because we have it but these things create fear and concern and people prefer to stay in an environment which they know.
We have to monitor it and hopefully [health authorities] are able to contain this virus as quickly as possible.”
On Thursday, the coronavirus outbreak was declared as a global emergency by the World Health Organization. The response by Caribbean governments has been an increase in security measures at the ports of entry.
On Friday, Antigua and Barbuda announced they will be closing their borders to travellers from China while assuring that all will be done to assist the families of students studying in China.