The effects of tourism on the Caribbean

Written by paul mcdaniel
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The effects of tourism on the Caribbean
(Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The islands of the Caribbean are all significantly affected by the tourism and travel industries. Many Caribbean island nations rely on tourism as their primary industry. Tourism has a profound effect, both positive and negative, on the economies, policies, cultures, and environments within the Caribbean.

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Positive economic effects

Many Caribbean island nations count on the tourism industry as their primary source for economic growth. When the tourism and travel industry is booming, Caribbean citizens from a wide variety of backgrounds benefit by working within and selling their goods and services to the travel industry.

Negative economic effects

When the tourism and travel industries are in a slump, the islands that most rely on tourism and travel as their principle economic driver suffer. Much of the revenue and profit from the tourism industry doesn't stay on the islands because many of the resorts and tour companies are foreign-owned, so tourism is an unreliable contributor to the long-term economies of many Caribbean islands.

The effects of tourism on the Caribbean
Oftentimes, tourism can be an unreliable contributor to the long-term economies of many Caribbean islands. ("Golden sunrise in Cahuita, Costa Rica" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: Armando Maynez (Armando Maynez) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Cultural effects

As with globalisation in general, a number of traditional local cultures and the indigenous cultures of Caribbean islands are disappearing. The tourism and travel industry brings with it the latest trends in globalized tourism, from luxury resorts to mega-size cruise ships; and particularly in terms of what tourists and travellers expect when they pay to venture to a tropical island.

The effects of tourism on the Caribbean
A number of traditional local cultures and the indigenous cultures of Caribbean islands are disappearing. ("Malecón, Havana" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: neiljs under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Environmental effects

The millions of tourists and travellers annually consume local resources such as energy, water and food, which has a significant impact on the local environment and ecosystems. Marine life and wildlife in the local areas in and around the islands, and their respective habitats and ecosystems, are also affected by the large-scale activities of the tourism industry.

Political effects

Because of tourism’s dominance in the economies of many Caribbean islands, local island governments often feel charged with promoting and further developing their island’s tourism industry and infrastructure.

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