I’m confused by the up beat coverage of the tourism figures released on Wednesday. Have people actually read the numbers? Total tourism spending was up 2.1% in the year to March. But that’s before inflation. After inflation it was flat. International tourism sector, the part that earns us export dollars, was down 0.4% on top of a 3.6% fall last year. 2,200 fewer people have jobs in tourism than they did a year ago. This in a time of supposed economic recovery.
When you get the the ‘value-added’ part of the tourism industry (that’s the number that actually contributes to GDP) it’s down 0.8% in real terms on top of a 6.5% decline the previous year. Tourism has declined from 4.1% of GDP three year ago to 3.8% this year.
Tourism, along with dairy, is a mainstay of our economy. It is in decline. And that decline will only get worse when oil prices next go through the roof. Our economy is built on two unsustainable foundations. Time to think about change.