WHAT IS A TOURIST ATTRACTION?
A tourist attraction is a place where tourists visit, for its natural or cultural
value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, offering leisure and
Natural beauty such as beaches, tropical island resorts with coral reefs,
national parks, mountains, deserts and forests, are examples of traditional
Cultural tourist attractions include historical places, monuments, ancient
temples, zoos, museums and art galleries, botanical gardens, buildings and
structures like castles or bridges, theme parks and carnivals, living history
museums, historic trains and cultural events.
Many tourist attractions are also landmarks.
TOURISM IN JAMAICA – THE BEGINNING
Christopher Columbus - on his inaugural voyage to Jamaica - was struck by
the island’s beauty.
These natural attributes proved to be invaluable assets when in 1891 the
government sought to explore the “economic potential of the colony.”
The decision to stage an “International Exhibition” in Jamaica during that
year fuelled the idea that “the Exhibition would bring many to Jamaica for the
first time who would make known the advantages of Jamaica as a winter
resort to others and thus lay the foundation for a steady and increasing flow
of tourists to the island.”
This signalled the “beginning of government’s commitment” to the
development of the tourist industry.
TOURISM IN JAMAICA – THE BEGINNING
Jamaica is the third largest of the Caribbean islands.
Tourism (Figure 13.12 on next slide) originated in the latter part of the
nineteenth century when a limited number of affluent people arrived to
avoid the cold winters in the UK and North America.
The first tourist hotels were built in Montego Bay and Port Antonio.
TOURISM IN JAMAICA – POTENTIAL DESTINATION
Advances in transportation made Jamaica a potential destination for an
increasing number of people.
In 2005 a total of 2,614,506 visited Jamaica. This comprised: 1,386,996
foreign nationals, 91,667 non-resident Jamaicans and 1,135,843 cruise
The high or ‘winter’ season runs from mid-December to mid-April.
The rainy season extends from May to November. About 25% of hotel
workers are laid off during the off-season.
TOURISM IN JAMAICA – GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
Jamaica is an example of a tourist area where there has been clear evidence
of growth and development. As the industry has expanded, its linkages with
other industries have developed as well.
Tourism has become an increasingly vital part of Jamaica’s economy in recent
decades (Table 13.2). In 2007 the direct contribution to GDP was almost $1.2
billion; with all the indirect benefits added the figure was $3.8 billion.
The contribution of tourism to total employment has also risen substantially.
During the 1970s the Jamaican government
introduced ‘Jamaicanisation’ policies
designed to attract much-needed foreign
investment in tourism.
Policies included comparatively high wages
and special industry taxes that went directly
into social development, health care and
Jamaica has been determined to learn from
the ‘mistakes’ of other countries and
ensure that the population will gain real
benefits from the growth of tourism.
Growth (of tourism) refers to the increase in numbers of tourists.
Development (of tourism) refers to the expansion of tourism activities such
as adventure tourism and ecotourism.
Jamaica’s north coast, with its pleasant weather and white-sand beaches, is
the centre of the island’s tourist industry.
The main resorts are Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Port Antonio, although
many tourists also visit the capital city, Kingston.
While sun and sand are the main attractions, the island also has other
attributes including dolphin parks, nature reserves, museums and galleries.
There are excellent facilities for a range of sports.
Jamaica’s cuisine is an attraction for many visitors.
There are many festivals and entertainment events during the year, often
featuring Jamaica’s native music, reggae.
Figure 13.12 shows the location of Jamaica’s three national parks.
A further six sites have been identified for future protection. The Jamaican
government sees the designation of the parks as a positive environmental
impact of tourism.
Entry fees to the national parks pay for conservation. The two marine parks
are attempting to conserve the coral reef environments off the west coast of
They are at risk of damage from overfishing, industrial pollution and mass
Ecotourism is a developing sector of the industry with, for example, raft trips
on the Rio Grande river increasing in popularity.
Tourists are taken downstream in very small groups.
The rafts, which rely solely on manpower, leave singly with a significant time
gap between them to minimise any disturbance to the peace of the forest.
Ecotourism is seen as the most sustainable form of tourist activity.
Considerable efforts are being made to promote community tourism so that
more money filters down to the local population and small communities.
Community tourism is seen as an important aspect of ‘pro-poor tourism’.
Community tourism fosters opportunities at the community level for local
people. Part of the tourist income gained is set aside for projects that provide
benefits to the community as a whole.
Pro-poor tourism results in increased net benefits for poor people.