Work at the Periphery: Issues of Tourism Sustainability in Jamaica
Keywords:Tourism, culture, ethnography, sustainability, Jamaica
The tourism industry in Jamaica, as elsewhere in the Caribbean, has provided government interests and tourism stakeholders with increasingly profitable economic benefits. The development and prosperity of the ‘all-inclusive’ vacation model has become a significant aspect of these benefits. Vacationers from North America and Europe are particularly attracted to tourism destinations providing resort accommodations that cater to foreign visitors, offering ‘safe spaces’ for the enjoyment of sun, sand, and sea that so many leisure-seekers desire. Safety and security are progressively becoming more relevant within the contexts of poverty, crime, and tourist harassment that are now commonplace in many of these island destinations. This model of tourism development, however, represents a problematic relationship between these types of hotels and the environmental, political, and economic interests of the communities in which they are located. The lack of linkage between tourist entities and other sectors, such as agriculture and transportation, leaves members of local communities out of the immense profits that are generated. Based on a review of relevant literature and ethnographic research conducted in one of Jamaica’s most popular resort towns, this paper considers the ways in which the sociocultural landscape of a specific place is affected by and responds to the demands of an overtly demanding industry. Utilizing an anthropological approach, I explore local responses to tourism shifts, and analyse recent trends in the tourism industry as they relate to the concept of sustainability.
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