East Caribbean States
The island nation has been able to attract foreign business and investment, especially in its offshore banking and tourism industries, with a surge in foreign direct investment in 2006, attributed to the construction of several tourism projects. Although crops such as bananas, mangos, and avocados continue to be grown for export, tourism provides Saint Lucia's main source of income and the industry is the island's biggest employer. Tourism is the main source of foreign exchange, although tourism sector revenues declined with the global economic downturn as US and European travel dropped in 2009. The manufacturing sector is the most diverse in the Eastern Caribbean area, and the government is trying to revitalize the banana industry, although recent hurricanes have caused exports to contract. Saint Lucia is vulnerable to a variety of external shocks including volatile tourism receipts, natural disasters, and dependence on foreign oil. The public debt-to-GDP ratio is about 77% and high debt servicing obligations constrain the KING administration's ability to respond to adverse external shocks. Economic fundamentals remain solid, even though unemployment needs to be reduced.