An Interdisciplinary Case Study of
Tourism in the Caribbean
In this project, I will analyze the effect that globalization
has had on the tourism sector in the Caribbean region.
To understand this topic, from an International Studies
perspective, I will look at the disciplines of Economics
and Anthropology to help explain both the positive and
negative effects of tourism. The following countries will
be looked to as Case Studies: The Dominican Republic
and Jamaica. This is crucial to understanding the
implications of a world that values vacationing in
Note: Videos will play automatically and some may be only
accessible by clicking the links. Thank You!
On the global picture it accounts for “1/3rd of the global trade in services and is
expanding at twice the growth rate of world output” (Cabezas 2008).
GDP “2013 GDP gain was USD6,990.3bn (9.5% of GDP)
2014 it is forecast to rise by 4.3%
2024 it is expected to rise by 4.2% pa to USD10,965.1bn (10.3% of GDP)”
(World Travel and Tourism, 2014).
EMPLOYMENT 2013 (including jobs indirectly ported by the industry) was 8.9% of
total employment (265,855,000 jobs).
2014 expected to rise by 2.5% to 272,417,000 jobs
2024 expected to rise by 2.4% pa to 346,901,000 jobs
In today’s global economy tourism in the Caribbean has made a shift from
“independently owned and owner-operated hotels to the multinational hotel chains”
CendantThe largest hotel chain in the world, operates 6,000 hotels with 500,000
Best WesternOperates in almost 100 countries (Cabezas, 2008).
How did globalization
The Airplane Industry also affected tourism. For example, in the
1960s, “long-haul jet service brought the Caribbean within reach of
the ordinary holiday-maker” by “reducing travel time from Europe to
the Caribbean from three weeks by sea to eight hours by air”
The airplane industry also established U.S. and European control,
as they were the ones who funded the subsidies for aircrafts. For
example, “in the 1950s the U.S. Senate authorized more than
US$12 million to support the development of improved transport
aircrafts” (Cabezas, 2008). Most of the airplanes are also “foreign
owned” like “American, KLM, British, Air, and Air France” therefore
the money does not stay in the Caribbean islands (Gmeich, 2012).
How did globalization
The era of the Internet has
allowed for “vertical integration of
airlines, car rental, and tour
operators”, making it as simple
as a click of a button (Cabezas,
2008). For example, “the ILO
(2001) indicates that major
multinational corporations such
as Hyatt and Starwood are
partnering with Microsoft’s
Expedia” (Cabezas, 2008).
Global Entities that
Some global intergovernmental organizations that
prompted the eve of Caribbean tourism include:
The World Bank and the United Nations who “endorsed tourism
for the Third World as a ‘promising new resource’”.
World Tourism Organization (WTO) “was the biggest cheerleader
for the industry”.
Organization of American States said it “would not only help raise
the standard of living…but encourage integration of people
through the interchange of ideas” (Gmeich, 2012).
Why? Simply, because “it relied on natural resources
that were already in place-sand, sun, and sea, and
friendly people-and it was thought to require low capital
investments in infrastructure”, however infrastructure
projects turned out to be costly for it required much
capital to make “Western-style amenities” (Gmeich,
Tourism is an essential part of the Caribbean
economy. The International Labor Organization
states that the Caribbean is the “largest tourism-
oriented region in the world”, where “a fifth of the
gross domestic product is produced for tourists,
directly or indirectly, by one out of every seven
workers” (Cabezas, 2008).
According to Polly Pattullo, “the Caribbean conjures
up the idea of ‘Heaven on Earth’ or ‘a little bit of
paradise’” (Gmeich, 2012).
From an Economic Perspective,
Tourism is a key industry that has
allowed for rapid economic
development in a globalized
Pros and Cons of Tourism
Advocate Components of Tourism:
Alleviation of Poverty
Integration into the globalized
Inter-American Development Bank
The World Bank
The International Monetary Fund
The United Nations
As a “viable mechanism for economic
and social development” (Cabezas
Critiques of Tourism:
Distorted cultural patterns
Rising land values
Prostitution and Trafficking of Women
Commodification of Culture
Scholars and Activists groups like
MODEMU (Moviemento de Mujeres
Unidas/Movement of United Women
GDP= estimated US$5.1 billion in foreign exchange
receipts (Economist Intelligence Unit)
Employment= between 1996 and 2000 generated
290,000 new jobs in the formal sector and 380,000 jobs
in the informal sector (Payne 2010).
Due to the “multiplier effect” (a macro-economics term)
tourism was projected to be an “outward ripple of tourist
dollars [that] fosters demand for goods in other areas”
(Gmeich, 2012). However, in the Dominican Republic,
“leakage” and “all-inclusive packages” hindered local
development (Cabezas, 2008; Gmeich, 2012).
Critiques of the
• Critiques of Tourism and Economic Development:
– Deborah McLaren (1998) believes that “tourism exerts a
greater, more pervasive influence on the countries and
cultures of the world than any imperial power” for “The sun
never sets on the tourist empire” (Gmeich, 2012).
– There is also inequality in the division of wealth in the
Dominican Republic, as many workers including natives
and those from “South and Southeast Asia” are “paid as
low as US $1.55 per hour” (Cabezas, 2008).
– Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is a way that attracts
foreign capital but does not keep money in the local
economy (Ripton 2013).
• In A Small Place, the Caribbean writer
Jamaica Kincaid stated “Every native of
every place is a potential tourist, and every
tourist is a native of somewhere. But some
natives-most natives in the world-cannot
go anywhere. They are too poor. They are
too poor to go anywhere” (Cabezas 2008).
The Pleasure Industry
The United Nations Human Development Report stated that, “the tourism
labor force is comprised of young women, over half of them younger than
39 and with fewer than eight years of schooling” (Cabezas, 2008). This has
thus forced girls to take up some form of employment, especially in the sex
According to UNDP reports, HIV rates in the Dominican Republic are
highest in places with high tourism, therefore regional organizations like
MODEMU have tried to spread awareness (Cabezas, 2008).
– Miriam, “a 23-year-old mother of two” who met her daughter’s father (an
African American police officer from New York) when he was on vacation,
supports her daughter by having sexual relationships with “foreign and local
men” (Cabezas, 2008). She stated, “From luck and death no one can
escape” (Cabezas, 2008).
From an anthropology
perspective, through the use of
ethnographies and participant
undermines local economies and
people, and thus hurts cultural
Race and Tourism
Race Those with European ancestry, due to the
Dominican’s Republic colonial ancestry are at the top of the
hierarchy. Two ideas form this discussion:
– “Pigmentocracy” refers to the darkest skinned individuals, or those
associated with Haiti, and by extension Africa, “occupy the lowest end of the
economic strata” (Skoczen, 2008).
– “Blanquiando” is the idea that to “protect one’s family from discrimination”
one should find ways to “whiten the family” (Skoczen, 2008).
However Tourism has also allowed this hierarchy to be
challenged, for the “selling of Dominican culture is a key
enticement in an extremely competitive tourist market”
(Skoczen, 2008). This allows for “Dominican-ness” to prefer
the native culture that was once discriminated against
The Case for
The struggle began in the late 1990s “when a foreign owned
company moved into the region, with the sanction of the
national government, and attempted to usurp power” by
marketing the spot for being an untouched cultural paradise
In 2009 the government continued to push for more growth by
investing in new hotels, and marketing projects to draw tourism
to these “natural wonders” (Ripton, 2013).
Inequality is rampant, for example in Las Terrenas, Samana a
woman named Altagracia remembers visiting the old fishing
village which is now a tourism hotspot. In tourism, she only
makes US$180 a month and her home has no electricity as she
struggles to feed her child in a “one-room house” (Ripton,
Some quotes from ethnographies that observed Local sentiments:
– “They eat meat, while we eat bones [Often heard sentiment in Samana in reference to
foreigner-owened businesses in Samana]” (Skoczen, 2008).
– “They are offering a lot to buy property, if they offer me all the money in the world, I
am not going to sell because I live here, I love it here and no one is going to take me
(sacarme) from the (water) front and throw me behind, it’s the truth. They can offer me
a million Canadian or American and they won’t take me from here [A Dominican living
along the waterfront in Samana, 2004]” (Skoczen, 2008).
*The natives of Samana find it important to “appeal to, or at least newly promote aspects
of their history, folklore, culture, and identity” (Skoczen, 2008).
Tourism has created a new identity in Samana. For example,” Ethnoscapes” are defined
as “groups that are ‘no longer tightly territorialized, spatially bounded, historically
unselfconscious, or culturally homogenous’” (Skoczen, 2008). As a result of the process
of global tourism, “people of different interests (i.e. hotel workers, hustlers, expatriates,
developers, government officials, etc.) converge bringing with them different visions of
the world”, thus creating different realities and redefining the “self” and their “nation”
Like the Dominican Republic,
Jamaica has also gained much
from the tourism sector and has
drastically because of it.
Debt=has increased by 130% of GDP (i.e. due to the
Global Recession that decreased tourism) (Oxford,
• Tourism is an “invisible export” and “multifaceted”
for it “touches every available part of the economy
• Jamaica has a Competitive Advantage:
1. Geographical Location=near the richest country in the
world and South America.
2. Natural Product=“natural beauty…weather, diversity
of attraction assets, culture and brand” (Oxford,
Imports These foreign forms find it cheaper to
import their products, due to things like the “Hotel
Incentive Act” which allows hotels to import their
products without paying taxes. For example, “of the
5,000 rooms built recently in Jamaica, not one single
room was furnished by a Jamaican manufacturer”
From an economic perspective, however, imports
must exist relative to the large amount of tourism and
small amount of agriculture, “however, there needs to
be greater collision between the sectors to allow the
strengthening of existing linkages further and to plan
ahead” (Oxford, 2012).
Agriculture and Tourism
One of the main reasons that Jamaica
moved economically to tourism was because
of the “poor performances in sugar and
bauxite exports pushed Jamaica toward
greater tourist activity”
In 2010 the tourism industry garnered more
than 6.8 times in export revenues than the
traditional agricultural exports (Oxford,
There are several initiatives for joint action
that include the Tourism Product
Development Company (TPDCo), the
Jamiaca Hotel and Tourist Association and
the Rural Agricultural Development Agency
(Holding and Hal, 2006).
Cruise Visitors vs.
Jamaica has seen “910,000 cruise visitors in 2012” (Oxford,
2012). In Jamaica, “the average expenditure by cruise visitors
on transportation, food and beverage has been recorded as
less than US$5 and just US$10 is the average spend on
attractions” while stopover visits amount to “US$102 per person
per night” (Holding and Hal, 2006). “The average cruise visitor
spends less than US$100 per visit while the average stopover
visitor spends nearly US $1,000 per visit” (Oxford, 2012).
Cruise ships are part of a Jamaican “export-based development
cruise tourism” (Chase and McKee, 2003). “Leakages” in this
industry are a major problem (i.e. revenue flowing out of the
country) and include:
Consumer Goods (especially Food and Drink)
Repatriation of Profits
Overseas Promotional Expenseses (Chase and McKee, 2003).
From an anthropology
perspective, in Jamaica it is about
finding ways to preserve the local
cultural heritage in a modern
TourismPeter M. Burns in An Introduction to Tourism and Anthropology (1999), says “tourism
should never be viewed as merely ‘business’ that produces revenue for individuals,
and/or countries, but must be analyzed in an effort to understand the complexities,
social interaction, rules…[and] other elements that make up culture” (Francis-Lindsay,
FALMOUTH HISTORIC DISTRICT
– Developed in the 18th century as a result of hard work from newly freed slaves and hailed
as the “best planned town in Jamaica” and a site of “Georgian buildings”.
– Declared a “Historic District” in 1996 and “Worlds Monuments Fund 100 Most Endangered
– In 2008 the Falmouth Heritage Renewal Program (FHR) announced a project to “provide
job skills to even more local youth in town”.
– Implications of Tourism include a way for the Jamaica National Heritage Fund (JNHT) to
ensure that the environment is protected and the local population (Francis-Lindsay, 2009).
– Another major issue is to ensure that locals have a responsibility to the area to prevent
the “Development and Consolidation stages” wherein there is “overuse and deterioration”
due to tourism.
IMPLICATIONS of TOURISM
Relying on one product creates a “crutch” and
dependency that could “weaken the overall
economy” (Payne, 2010).
Tourism has created a ONE market based
economy, that is now vulnerable to fluctuations
in the global economy. Example, the Global
Recession decreased tourism in the region,
although they are now recovering due to the
fact that the tourist industry is “volatile” and
therefore can be “long term” (Holding and Hal,
There are also a lot of environmental concerns
like ocean pollution (Holding and Hal, 2006).
CRIME in the Caribbean
Crime has also increased in the Dominican Republic, as early as the
1990s, for example, young men known as ‘tigres’ or ‘buscones’ have become
more aggressive since there are “few prospects of employment” and target
“unattended yachts and vulnerable expatriates” (Skoczen, 2008).
One community leader and local businessman the author spoke to, “lamented
the actions of these young men who they feel are ‘ruining business for
everyone’” (Skoczen, 2008). Some also blame crime on the “visibility and
disproportionate distribution of wealth through tourism, the lack of opportunity
and exposure to violent films” (Skoczen, 2008).
For example, it not only directly hurts the marketplace by tourists not wanting
to leave the resorts, but also creates a perception that discourages spending
in the local economy (Oxford, 2012).
• Caribbean Tourism Organization
– “The Caribbean Tourism Organization
(CTO), the region’s tourism
development agency, has 30 country
members, including Dutch, English,
French and Spanish, as well as a
myriad of private sector allied
members. The CTO’s vision is to
position the Caribbean as the most
desirable, year-round, warm weather
destination. Its purpose is Leading
Sea, One Voice, One
“The World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainable
development as ‘development that meets the needs of the present generation without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (Owen, Witt
and Gammon, 1993)” (Jayawardena 2007).
1. Social Objectives: to enhance the well-being of visitors and local residents.
2. Environmental Objectives: to make sure tourism protects the local
3. Economic Objectives: To make a profit and benefit the local economy by
creating tourism that is based in the local areas.
• This type of tourism might allow for “cultural diversity and community pride
and sense of identity through promotion and celebration of cultural
differences…and traditional festivals” (Jayawaderna, 2007).
A new SUSTAINABLE
Find your Sun Mate:
Dominican Republic has it All:
In Focus Dominican Republic: Sex
workers Confront HIV:
Samana, a “Jewel in the Crown”
Jamaica Travel Film:
Jamaica For Sale Trailer:
Tourism in Jamaica 2:
Royal Caribbean’s Falmouth Jamaica:
Some other worthwhile links:
Authority on World Travel and Tourism (2014). Travel and Tourism: World Economic Impact 2014 . World Travel
and Tourism Council.
Cabezas, A.L. (2008). Tropical Blues: Tourism and Social Exclusion In The Dominican Republic. Latin
American Perspectives, 35(3), 21-36.
Caribbean Tourism Organization. (2014, March 31). Latest Tourism Statistics Tables. Retrieved May 5,2014
from http:// www.onecaribbean.org/statistics/latest-tourism-statistics-tables/
Chase, G.L & McKee, D.L (2003). The Economic Impact of Cruise Tourism on Jamaica. The Journal of
Tourism Studies 14 (2), 16-22.
Economist Intelligence Unit (2014). Dominican Republic: Tourist arrivals Grow in 2013, lifting revenue. http://
Francis-Lindsay, J. (2009). The Intrinsic Value of Cultural Heritage and its Relationship to Sustainable
Tourism Development: The Constrasting Experiences of Jamaica and Japan. Caribbean Quarterly,
Gmeich, G. (2012). Behind the Smile: the Working Lives of Caribbean Tourism. Bloomington: Indiana
Holding, R. & Hal, K.O. (2006). Tourism: The Driver of Change in the Jamaican Economy. Kingston: Ian
Jayawardena, C. (2007). Caribbean Tourism: More than Sun, Sand, and Sea. Kingston: Ian Randle
Oxford Economics (2012). Travel and Tourism as a Driver of Economic Development in Jamaica. Oxford
Payne, S. (2010). Tourism in the Dominican Republic: Social and Economic Effects. Gatton Student
Research Publication 3(1), Gatton College of Business and Economics.
Ripton, J. (2013). Developing Paradise: Tourism, the Local Community, and Nature in Las Terrenas,
Dominican Republic. Journal of International Global Studies, 5(1), 34-60. Retrieved April 27, 2014,
from the EBSCO database.
Skoczen, K.N. (2008). Almost Paradise: The Cultural Politics of Identity and Tourism in Samana, Dominican
Republic. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, 13(1), 141-167.