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Hunting the Green Flash

Sep 1, 2004

Caribbean countries are looking for ways to fuel long-term growth. Will that prove as elusive as the legendary green flash at sunset?

After three miserable years, the Caribbean is back on its feet. Strong commodity prices have given countries like bauxite-exporter Jamaica a much-needed boost, while remittances from workers in the US and UK are at record levels. But it is tourism's recovery since the September 2001 terrorist attacks that is driving growth - and that may not be the best formula for long-term economic health.

"The tourism recovery in the Caribbean is very robust with arrivals up 6%-10% in some countries," says Carl Ross, chief emerging market economist at Bear Stearns in New York. "That's very admirable and, I think, a direct result of very hard work by Caribbean countries in marketing their product."

Because of their size, the larger northern Caribbean countries like Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are the greatest beneficiaries. The Dominican Republic and Cuba each have about 45,000 hotel rooms, compared to...

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