What are the disadvantages of tourism in Jamaica?
Answered by Isheba Cornwall, Associate Writer
Whenever I hear or see the word "TOURISM", I instantly think Jamaica. In my mind, "Jamaica" and "Tourism" and synonymous.
No surprise to you then that Jamaica relies so heavily on tourism. As I speak to you, it is still our main source of income and 1/4 of our jobs are related in some way to tourism.
Though a main driver in Jamaica's economy, tourism has its full share of disadvantages to our country. But before I share those with you, let's talk about the primary benefits of tourism to our economy.
PRIMARY BENEFITS OF TOURISM IN JAMAICA
- Source of foreign exchange earnings
- Employment Opportunity
- Cultural Exchange
- Publicity of nation
- Infrastructure Development
A large part of the Jamaican society is unemployed but tourism provides an opportunity for these and many others to get meaningful jobs and gain experience.
Having these jobs available go as far as also lowering the crime rate in the country.
Earning valuable foreign exchange is a bonus (x2). The more foreign exchange we earn, the more we can also expand our infrastructure.
Cultural exchange is also a primary benefit of tourism in Jamaica. Many tourists, when visiting Jamaica, look forward to our Jamaican way of living and so they long to understand and participate in our cultural activities.
Once they experience this, they're going to want to visit Jamaica again and again which is equally beneficial to the country. Jamaicans, on the other hand, can potentially learn new skills and best practices from tourists.
Tourism also helps us to showcase Jamaica! Publicizing the country will encourage others to visit and form somewhat of a chain - those tourists come and enjoy themselves in Jamaica then they'll talk about their experience and BAM! another group of tourists are on their way here.
But the benefits arrive with its fair share of disadvantages.
DISADVANTAGES OF TOURISM
Tourism is so successful in Jamaica that, if we are not careful, other industries may be neglected.
This dependence on one main industry, if allowed to happen, will make Jamaica's economy vulnerable to external (and internal) shocks, putting the entire country at risk.
Although creating job opportunities, having potentially large number of tourists on the island also creates an inherent disadvantage. The overcrowding can potentially put them at risk of being hurt or getting robbed.
REVENUE FAILS TO HELP INFRASTRUCTURE
It is tempting to belief that revenue we gain from tourism helps the country build its infrastructure, including, fixing it's roads, but that's not what usually happens in reality.
In most cases, the money gained from tourism ends up being (re) directed to tourist areas on the island.
TOURISM IS (STILL) SEASONAL
Tourism has its time. It is still seasonal and this leads to individuals getting laid off during the off season. The service staff, including bartenders, waiters, and house keeping personnel are usually first at risk.
LOCALS MISS OUT ON 'TOURIST' OFFERINGS
Sad to say but many locals never get the chance to enjoy what tourists enjoy. The costs to go to these resorts, for example, usually cost way more than the average Jamaican can afford.
Also, from personal experience, locals aren't given the same treatment when provided the chance to visit the tourist areas as tourists are. Some are mistreated and discriminated against.
TOURISM CAN CAUSES ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE OR DEPLETE NATURAL RESOURCES
Many tourists who come to Jamaica pay little or no regard to the environment. There is a correlated increase in air, water and noise pollution during the tourist season - directly or indirectly.
Tourism development also puts pressure on natural resources as it increases consumption, even in areas where resources are already scarce. Note that some of our best 'hidden' attractions are now no longer so, some are even exploited.
LOCAL TRADITIONS LOST
Our rich cultural heritage has a huge impact on our identity as a nation, overseas, but also locally. Unfortunately, this is slowly been diminished.
Simple, we tend to focus on the touristy things rather than local offerings. Although tourists expect to see local flavour, the truth is that, particularly in our all- inclusive resorts, our tour guides and those who work in the tourism industry continues to put on acts for tourists, usually those familiar to tourists.
Tourists also bring their practices, customs and traditions as well, some of which are sometimes totally counter to our beliefs and traditions - never mind that some eventually settle here.
Its not all hope lost though, sorry I didn't mean to scare you, it just means that we need to...
a) be mindful of these and,
b) take steps to correct or mitigate as much as we can.
I hope this answers you question.
Readers, I welcome your comments, additions, and suggestions
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A patriotic Jamaican who adores his culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' - since April 2007.
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