The economy underwent a substantial transformation in the
twentieth century as tourism replaced sugar as the principal earner
of foreign exchange and the primary source of employment. Like the
previously dominant sugar industry, tourism was controlled
primarily by foreign capital. This control was in part the result
of insufficient domestic capital, the local upper class having made
more of its investments in commerce than in entrepreneurship. In an
attempt to fill the local void, the government established state
enterprises. Their specific purpose was to develop areas where
foreigners were hesitant to invest, such as infrastructure or the
faltering sugar industry, or to create domestic competition with
foreign-owned enterprises, such as those in the tourist industry.
The other major sectors of the economy, especially agriculture,
were not strong enough to support the tourist industry; as a
consequence, many items had to be imported.
Data as of November 1987