A forecast calls for the Caribbean's travel and tourism sector to generate approximately $57 billion in revenue this year, according to research by Tourism Satellite Accounting for the World Travel & Tourism Council.

That figure is far below the world average, the research shows. Even if the $57 billion almost doubles over the next 10 years as expected, it would still be below the world average, said Tourism Satellite Accounting.

The survey results, released by the World Travel & Tourism Council and strategic partner Accenture, revealed a projected 2.3% increase in travel and tourism in the Caribbean region in 2008. The growth rate will level out to an average of 3.2% each year between 2009 and 2018, which is below the world average, according to the study.

WTTC President Jean-Claude Baumgarten warned that the Caribbean must focus on long-term development to be competitive.

Within the Caribbean, WTTC forecast the highest rate of growth this year for Trinidad and Tobago at 8.4%, followed by St. Kitts & Nevis at 5.6% and St. Lucia at 5.1%.
Puerto Rico is the revenue leader in the Caribbean, as travel and tourism accounts for $10.8 billion. The Dominican Republic is second.

Of the 12 regions that the research covered, the Caribbean is the most dependent upon travel and tourism in terms of its contribution to the national economy. Travel and tourism in 2008 will account for 12.9% of the region's employment, or approximately 2 million jobs.

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