Negative Impacts of Caribbean Tourism

Written by sam grover
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The Caribbean Sea is a popular tourist destination, particularly for North American visitors who find the area cheap, lush and geographically accessible. This has resulted in an influx of money to the region over the past few decades. However, as with everything, there are a number of problems associated with this, both for the Carribean and the people who visit it.

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Cruise Ship Concentration

The Caribbean cruise ship industry is dominated by a handful of companies that collaborate through interest groups. This can create problems for suppliers, subcontractors and even entire island nations. Because cruise ships form such a large component of so many nations' economies and export revenue, these nations are essentially at the cruise ship companies' mercy, often being forced to make decisions that serve their citizens less than they serve the cruise lines, according to a 2005 report by the United Nations.

Environmental Impact

Alaskan, Hawaiian and Californian cruise ships have all experienced heavier fines for things like oil and waste discharge than their Caribbean counterparts, in spite of the fact that there are substantially more cruise ships in the Caribbean. This may be because Caribbean cruise ships are exceptionally safe, but the odds are better-inclined towards this being a result of lax Caribbean law enforcement, according a UN report. "The number of prosecutions has been less than in the United States but this is probably more linked with greater enforcement capabilities and standards in United States waters rather than fewer occurrences of the same infractions," according to the UN report.

Economic Sensitivity

Tourism is an economically sensitive product. While it is a viable export, it is also often the first thing to lose traction when the economy as a whole suffers, because it is a luxury product. It also makes Caribbean economies -- and jobs -- extremely dependent on the health of other economies. This is slightly mitigated by the fact that the Caribbean services multiple markets, but this has also created extremely high standards for tourism. These high standards mean that it is difficult for Caribbean citizens to make a living as the economy makes their jobs harder and harder to compete for. The dependence on tourism, though, means that there are few non-tourism jobs to fall back on, according to a study published by the Association of Carribean States.

Climate Change

The Caribbean is also susceptible to rising water levels as the climate changes. This is a problem as Caribbean countries rely on their beaches for tourism; as the water levels rise, these beaches will essentially disappear. What's more, tourism has brought a large proportion of Caribbean populations near the beaches, thus making the effects of climate change more pronounced as more people are displaced, according to global warming watchdog "It's Getting Hot in Here."

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