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The effects of tourism on the Caribbean

Updated April 17, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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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About the Author

Paul McDaniel began writing in 2007 for various online venues, including eHow, with an emphasis on travel. He holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in geography from Samford University and the University of Tennessee and a Master of Arts in Education from the University of Alabama. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in geography from the University of North Carolina.