International Centre for Cruise Research
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Chase, Gregory Lee
The economic impact of cruise ships in the 1990s: Some evidence from the Caribbean
Ph.D., Kent State University, 2001, 150 pages

Small island nations in the Caribbean have limited opportunities for growth with their small populations and markets. Tourism, an industry that these countries have a comparative advantage in, is seen as a growth industry and a way to development.

The traditional tourist in the Caribbean, the stopover tourist, arrives on an airplane and stays a week to 10 days. The cruise industry was seen as a supplement to traditional stopover tourism, with cruise arrivals typically only spending part of a day on an island before moving on to a new destination. With the expansion of the cruise industry in the 1990s, the tourist arrival composition for many small island nations in the Caribbean changed. In the 1990s, for the first time, traditional stopover tourist arrivals were fewer than cruise arrivals for most of these nations.

Most of the island nations in the Caribbean have welcomed all the cruise ships that are willing to stop. These nations view increased cruise tourism as a path towards development. While the increased arrivals have resulted in increased spending, the costs and benefits of cruise arrivals have to be considered. While there are clearly social and environmental concerns in regards to cruise tourism, this study only addressed the economic issues.

Previous studies in the 1980s have evaluated the economic impact of cruise ships, but they were looking at a totally different industry compared to the industry today and its importance to these nations. Using a Keynesian multiplier the economic impact of cruise ship arrivals on these countries was investigated. This study considered the economic impact of cruise tourism on investment, government, and import spending for independent island nations in the 1990s to see if continued expansion of facilities for cruise ships passengers is a worthwhile method of development.

The countries selected for evaluation in this study were Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica. These countries all have similar backgrounds and history, being former British colonies. In addition, the countries are geographically fairly well dispersed in the Caribbean.