Beyond Tourism: The Future of the Services Industry in the Caribbean

Caribbean Paper No. 3

April 23, 2008

The small economies of the Caribbean have entered a period of extraordinary economic uncertainty driven by the impact of new trade rules on the region's agricultural sector; dramatic advances in technology that have lowered barriers to entry; and fierce global competition from large, low-wage countries in Asia. Furthermore, the Caribbean nations' ability to sustain a high level of social well-being is suffering due to the effects of broader economic change that has left the region in a reactive position. Against this backdrop, the services sector in the Caribbean may serve as an important source of economic growth, but only if the region begins to move beyond tourism to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the areas of banking and financial services, call centres and information and communication technology, off-shore education and health services, and transportation. This essay assesses the future prospects for the Caribbean to create a thriving service-based economy and offers ideas to help the region to both build on and transcend its reliance on tourism to carve a more profitable and sustainable niche in the global economy.

Part of Series

The Caribbean Papers

CIGI's Caribbean Papers present and discuss policy issues pertaining to trade, investment, human capital, the fiscal outlook and public sector management practices, among other issues, relevant to the Caribbean region's economic future.

About the Authors

Daniel P. Erikson is the senior associate for US policy and director of Caribbean programs at the Inter-American Dialogue.

Joyce Lawrence is a candidate for Masters in Pacific International Affairs at the University of California, San Diego, where she serves as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of International Policy Solutions