One of the best known Caribbean destinations is the island country of Barbados, located close to the islands of St. Lucia and St. Vincent & The Grenadines, in the Lesser Antilles. Barbados is also one of the larger, individual Caribbean islands, covering 166 square miles and has a population of approximately 285,000 people. Barbados uses the Barbados Dollar which has a fixed rate against the US Dollar. Since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1966, the Barbados economy has been up and down but has mainly stayed stable in recent years thanks to its prominence in the business niche of tourism.
Agriculture in Barbados Economy
Like many islands in the Caribbean, Barbados was an important centre for colonial production in its early years. When the British had control of the island the Barbados economy relied heavily on the production of agricultural goods, rum and cotton. Sugar cane production was a large part of the economy on the island once it was taken over by the Dutch in the 17th century. Indeed, Barbados became one of the leaders in the Caribbean in terms of sugar cane production and export, holding this title for more than 100 years and thus being one of the richest colonies of the time.
At one time the business of agriculture, mining, forestry and fishing were the mainstays of the Barbados economy, but this slowly dwindled in favour of newer industries. The country still exports the likes of cotton, rum, foodstuffs and beverages but has managed to add to its export repertoire in recent years. The island has a light manufacturing industry, mainly making electrical components to be shipped to export partner countries such as the United Kingdom, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Brazil.
Barbados Construction Boom
Another industry that has been able to boom and help the Barbados economy is construction. With Barbados being a favourite destination for many travellers, the need for building new hotels and other types of accommodation has meant that the building trade has become a steady industry on the island. This boom has even meant that a cement factory has re-opened on the island to provide building materials for the building trade. Of course, the boom in construction is closely linked to the tourism industry which is probably what Barbados is most associated with in terms of economy.
The island has been able to flourish in this sector and it has been a stable income for the country since the 1960s. Tourism was affected by a recession during part of the 1990s, but was able to recover fairly quickly. Of course, tourism also helps to keep the labour force in employment with an estimated 13,000 people (out of a total estimated work force of 128,000 on the island) being employed in this sector currently. With the increase in visitors, accommodation and activities set to grow in the near future, this can only lead to a higher percentage of workers in tourism.
One industry that is becoming more apparent in Barbados is the offshore financial service and even data services are contributing well to the Barbados economy. The financial sector on the island is helped in that it has a highly trained workforce and the island is in the same time zone as other large economic heavyweights such as the United States of America.
It is clear that the Barbados economy can only go from strength to strength in future years and economic growth is likely to continue in its main industries of tourism, finance and manufacturing.