An opening of Cuba to U.S. tourism would represent a seismic shift in the Caribbean's tourism industry. This study models the impact of such a potential opening by estimating a counterfactual that captures the current bilateral restriction on tourism between the two countries. After controlling for natural disasters, trade agreements, and other factors, the results show that a hypothetical liberalization of Cuba-U.S. tourism would increase long-term regional arrivals. Neighboring destinations would lose the implicit protection the current restriction affords them, and Cuba would gain market share, but this would be partially offset in the short-run by the redistribution of non-U.S. tourists currently in Cuba. The results also suggest that Caribbean countries have in general not lowered their dependency on U.S. tourists, leaving them vulnerable to this potential change.
This study measures the impact of changing economic conditions in OECD countries on tourist arrivals to countries/destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean. A model of utility maximization across labor, consumption of goods and services at home, and consumption of tourism services across monopolistically competitive destinations abroad is presented. The model yields estimable equations arrivals as a function of OECD economic conditions and the elasticity of substitution across tourist destinations. Estimates suggest median tourism arrivals decline by at least three to five percent in response to a one percent increase in OECD unemployment, even after controlling for declines in OECD consumption and output gaps. Arrivals to individual destination are driven by differing exposure to OECD country groups sharing similar business cycle characteristics. Estimates of the elasticity of substitution suggest that tourism demand is highly price sensitive, and that a variety of costs to delivering tourism services drive market share losses in uncompetitive destinations. One recent cost change, the 2009 easing of restrictions on U.S. travel to Cuba, supported a small (countercyclical) boost to Cuba’s arrivals of U.S. non-family travel, as well as a pre-existing surge in family travel (of Cuban origin). Despite the US becoming Cuba’s second highest arrival source, Cuban policymakers have significant scope for lowering the relatively high costs of family travel from the United States.
Mr. Sebastian Acevedo Mejia, Lu Han, Miss Marie S Kim, and Ms. Nicole Laframboise
This paper studies the role of airlift supply on the tourism sector in the Caribbean. The
paper examines the relative importance of U.S.-Caribbean airlift supply factors such as the
number of flights, seats, airlines, and departure cities on U.S. tourist arrivals. The possible
endogeneity problem between airlift supply and tourist arrivals is addressed by using a
structural panel VAR and individual country VARs. Among the four airlift supply
measures, increasing the number of flights is found to be the most effective way to boost
tourist arrivals on a sustained basis. As a case study, the possible crowding effect of
increasing the number of U.S. flights to Cuba is investigated and, based on past
observations, we find no significant impact on flights to other Caribbean countries. The
impact of natural disasters on airlift supply and tourist arrivals is also quantified.