Financial Crisis by XWNj40k


									Researchers reflect on the Impact of the Global Recession on Lifestyle
Migration and Residential Tourism Development

Michaela Benson – Lifestyle Migration and Property Development in
Over the summer I carried out fieldwork in three lifestyle migration destinations
in Panama – Boquete, Bocas del Toro, and Panama City. *

In Boquete, the most evident outcome of the economic crisis was the slowing
down of residential development projects. There were various building sites
where the work had just stopped. I also heard that the number of planning
proposals received by the municipality was down 80% on the previous year.
Nevertheless, since my visit in 2008 there had been new incomers, and while
some could still afford to buy property, there were others who had opted to rent.
These were mostly retirees.

In Bocas del Toro, the rate of development was remarkable. Many buildings are
going up, although it is difficult to assess the extent to which this promoted by
lifestyle migration. Apparently there have been plans to develop Carrenero and
Bastimentos (islands in the Archipelago), but these have not gone ahead at the
speed with which they were initially planned. What were evident in this town
were the increased number of backpackers, and the diversity of the places that
they had come from. The hotels, now suffering from a lack of more affluent
tourists, have turned towards this new tourism market, and even while I was
visiting two or three hotels became hostels.

Panama was interesting in terms of what it revealed about the impact of the
global recession on lifestyle migration motivations. I met several North
Americans who had chosen to leave the US precisely because of the recession.
They expressed a sense of disillusionment with the existing government
(Obama), but also, as many of them had been self-employed, argued that the
policies in the US had been highly restrictive to the extent of almost penalizing
them for choosing to be self-employed. They had hopes that they would be able
to set up businesses in Panama City, and had often chosen to rent property. In
this respect, I felt that these individuals had used the recession as an excuse to
escape the system.

Boquete and the financial crisis

*I am very grateful to the British Academy who funded this research in Panama (SG-53957).

Iranzu Gárriz Fernández – Impacts on Mexico
I am doing my fieldwork in San Miguel de Allende, México.

On the issue of ways that the financial crisis has impacted on lifestyle migration
populations, I would like to tell you that since July I’ve been interviewing all
restaurants located in downtown San Miguel, and the vast majority of restaurant
owners interviewed told me they didn’t feel the effects of world economic crisis,
instead they’ve felt a large negative impact of swine flu (H1N1) since May.
However, as July is high season for tourism, they were already recovering from
the sales slowdown. Casablanca’s owner said: “La crisis económica mundial no se
ha notado en San Miguel de Allende, no sé si la disfrazaron" (translation: The
financial crisis has not been felt in San Miguel de Allende, I don’t know if it is

John Koch-Schulte – Lifestyle Migration to Thailand
It is inconclusive right now but I believe the overall numbers in Thailand may be
down quite a bit for retirees and people moving for many months at a time. I
suspect this is due to the fact that the beach resort areas are very tourist based
and are impacted disproportionately to other areas due to recent growth in
second homes, investment and vacation properties in these areas. There has also
been incredible political strife in Thailand the past two years or so which has
further made the tourist areas less attractive.

My case study was in a non-tourist location and early numbers appear to have
far more foreigners retiring/moving here in the past year. Which is quite
remarkable considering the political problems. It is also an incredibly cheap
area and home province to many of the foreigners' wives. I suspect many people
that have found themselves out of work in the past year are settling here until
things improve back home.

Raluca Nagy – Lifestyle Migration to Romania
The crisis has definitely influenced both tourism to and migration from the area I
used to research (Maramures, Northern Romania). When the real estate market
crashed, some of the first to be sent home were Romanian illegal workers in
construction, from Spain and Italy. Many of them are now back in their villages,
unemployed and rather proud to admit the situation, pretending they came
back as a result of their own decision.

As for tourism, it has dramatically diminished, not only in the studied area but
also in the neighbouring Bucovina.

Remy Tremblay – Quebecoise Seasonal Migration
I look at seasonal migration or French-Canadian (Quebec snowbirds) in Florida.
Although Canada has not been hit too hard by the recession, I did notice some
changes in their plans: shorter trips, hunt for better deals from those who rent
motel rooms or condos in Florida, more aggressive publicity from
renters, airlines etc.

This is another story but Mexico is going through such a tough time that it makes
the tight-budget snowbirds look like complainers. Here in Quebec, for example,
Mexico is going in all the tourism trade shows (huge booths!), have full-page
publicity in newspapers and magazines etc. in order to bring their faithful
tourists back. Right now, it is actually cheaper to go to the Caribbean side of
Mexico than Florida, the Dominican Republic or Cuba (where Canadians
comprise the largest percentage or all tourists).

Karen O’Reilly – Lifestyle Migration and residential tourism in Spain
I have not managed to update my research recently but there is plenty of
anecdotal evidence that Spain’s property market is one of the worst hit in the
global recession and it is quite clear that this is having an impact on those who
relocated there in the past decades. There are many people with negative equity
and who are struggling to pay back mortgages on over-valued properties. Those
who hoped to supplement their income with rental from second homes in Spain
are finding that the weak pound is deterring tourists.
Meanwhile, many planned residential tourism developments have been halted
mid way, while perhaps more astonishingly some are going ahead with fingers
Here are some interesting news reports to follow up if interested:

I am sure our Spanish colleagues have much more to add….

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