Strikes devastate French Caribbean island economies
Strikes paralysing Guadeloupe and Martinique are devastating the economies of the French Caribbean islands and causing much of the vital tourism sector there to shut down, business leaders said Friday.PARIS - Guadeloupe, entering its third week of a general strike, will lose about 100 million euros (130 million dollars) in a month, and economic damage was set to reach the same level in Martinique, where a similar stoppage began last week.
"Of the 15,000 hotel beds (in Guadeloupe) normally occupied in this season, two thirds are empty," said Didier Arino of the Protourisme consultancy.
Most shops, cafes, banks, schools and government offices have shut in the Caribbean islands amid mass protests that erupted over the high cost of living.
Hotels and resorts have shut down and winter sun holiday flights from Europe been cancelled.
President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday he was setting up a high-level council to address the worsening situation in Guadeloupe and Martinique
The islands rely almost exclusively on imports sold in French-owned supermarkets at significantly higher prices than on mainland France.