The social impact of tourism in Jamaica - OutboundHolidays (2023)

The social impact of tourism in Jamaica - OutboundHolidays (1)JamaicaIt is fundamentally a “sun, sea and beach” destination, which is why among the main leisure activities for visitors are sunbathing and sea bathing on the beaches.Tourists visiting Jamaicatherefore, they are primarily engaged in activities such as beach visits, snorkeling, scuba diving, and glass bottom boat tours.

jamaican tourismThe product depends on coral reefs and associated ecosystems such as seagrass beds and mangroves. However, these ecosystems are threatened by natural causes and human behavior such as coastal pollution, rapid coastal development, overfishing and global warming.

All stakeholders (citizens, tourism industry and visitors) have a stake in the management of the environmental resource base and an obligation to do their part to support that management. When the environment is harmed, all parties lose: visitors will stay away (or be willing to pay less) and countries lose an important source of economic benefits. In other words, the environment will produce less economic, ecological and comfort.

Microeconomic theory is essentially the study of the equitable distribution of scarce goods or benefits. In this example, the limited benefit is the Jamaican beach tourism product. Economic theory provides approaches to making the supply and demand of these scarce services more efficient. In this case, the claim for the “good” is the “desire for the beach” (sun, sand, sea)Turismo Jamaica. This contrasts with "wonder tourism" such as safaris, mountaineering, cultural and heritage tourism seen in other parts of the world. The "good" is provided at a cost that would include the traditional cost of labor and capital, and so on. However, if the cost of providing the good does not take into account negative externalities such as environmental damage, this leads to market failure. If this market failure is not corrected, it will lead to a loss of social benefits (deadweight loss).

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Jamaica's current tourism model is based on building mega-inclusive resorts, which often require engineering solutions such as dredging, breakwater construction and limestone blasting to create beaches for swimming and erecting buildings just meters from high tide. . The construction and operation of tourist facilities such as hotels and other attractions also result in significant changes in the terrestrial environment, trees, insects, birds, etc. Operating these facilities also results in the diversion of resources such as water and electricity that could have been used elsewhere in society.


Increased construction activity on the coast offers relatively short-term, low-skill jobs. The temporary demand for this labor often leads to the proliferation of unplanned settlements and slums located nearby.leisure areas. These settlements are typically found in the foothills and mountains above the coast. The emergence of these communities results in the destruction of watersheds in these areas, as well as inadequate sewage treatment and solid waste disposal. All this contributes to a lower environmental quality; B. Decreased water quality due to increased nutrients and turbidity in coastal waters.

The simple economic analysis ofjamaican tourismThe model described above points to a market failure. The main reason for the market failure associated with the Jamaican tourism model is the fact that the economic "rent" associated with the natural environment is not captured by theJamaican people.

"Economic rent" is an excess return on an asset, a profit higher than the normal market return. Rents often arise from assets that are scarce and in fixed supply. Waterfront real estate is a good example of the type of asset that yields a cheap rent. Another example is the higher real estate costs in Coopers Hill or Beverly Hills compared to Havendale or Mona, where affordable rent (or added value) in this case is a view of the city. It could be argued that economic rents such as beauty and the natural environment should benefit the people of Jamaica and not foreign tourists or tourism companies. Leases are essentially a form of payment for the use of the resource. So the first reason for market failure is that there is no real measure of economic rent.

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A second example of market failure is that these tourism companies, which currently earn all the rents, also fail to take into account the negative externalities of their activities. For example, hotels do not pay the true cost of pollution and negative impacts associated with using and operating their facilities. However, the problem of market failure does not stop there. As with several other Caribbean nations, the development of the tourism industry is heavily subsidized by the Jamaican government.hotelsand attractions are tax-free (eg 10, 15, 20 years tax-free), imports of construction materials are tax-free, among other things.

In addition, government facilities such as B. accelerated permit requirements and their alleged role in circumventing environmental planning and regulations that reduce costs for investors and are also considered a subsidy. In addition to not charging rent and ignoring negative externalities, government subsidies to the tourism industry through tax breaks and other exemptions also compound the problem of market failure. This, in turn, means that the well-being of society, i.e. h of the people of Jamaica, is even more reduced.


As highlighted above, correcting market failures can be achieved through the introduction of taxes. In the case of coastal tourism in Jamaica, this would mean that investors are forced to internalize environmental costs. In theory, this would lead to better environmental management and sustainable development of the tourism industry. Given the current political climate inJamaicaand the influence of tourism industry actors, this proposal is likely to be met with hostility.

Given this fact, a more viable way to earn an economic income is to capture a small part of the profits that visitors to the island earn. This would be done using the existing system of arrival fees for cruise ship visitors and island calls. However, unlike the current system, where fees are often hidden in room supplements or airline tickets, the additional environmental tax must be explicitly stated.

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Of course, there are broader questions about tourism's true economic contribution. Tourism is clearly very important to Jamaica's economic sustainability. Jamaica's tourism industry accounts for 32% of total jobs and 36% of the country's GDP, according to many studies. However, due to some of the market failures described above, are there other costs that are not taken into account?turismoit has many hidden costs that can have adverse economic effects on host countries such as Jamaica.

A country's direct income is the amount of tourism spending left over after paying taxes, profits and wages and after purchasing imports; these subtracted quantities are called leaks.

For the all-inclusive tourism model, studies show that around 80% of traveler spending goes to international airlines, hotels and other businesses, rather than local businesses or workers. Additionally, significant amounts of revenue that are actually held back at the target level can be drained by the exit. For example, profits from foreign tour operators, airlines and hotels are repatriated to their home countries. Estimates for third world countries range from 80% in the Caribbean to 40% in India. In simple terms, an average of every $100 spent on avacation tourFor a tourist from a developed country, there is only about $5 left in the economy of the destination country in a developing country.

Current tensions between local craft vendors, restaurants and other service businesses, and large resort chains are all too common and point to the problem of leakage. Super-inclusive hotels don't encourage guests to venture outside the hotel walls; therefore, most of the tourist experience is limited to the entertainment and sun, sea and beach activities available at this location. It can be said that the country of Jamaica is not the destination, but the "resort" that is the destination. Our academic institutions in the region urgently need more comprehensive studies on this topic. Researchers in the Caribbean have a responsibility to provide balanced information that can enrich the discourse among all relevant stakeholders. Much of the discourse is driven by myopia and politics on the one hand, and passionate advocacy on the other. Often, the arguments of competing parties (developers versus environmentalists) are not supported by balanced information.

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In my opinion, the current model of tourism in Jamaica is having an overall negative impact on the island. It is inherently unsustainable as major players do not internalize the negative externalities associated with the sector. Current market failures and the inability to truly integrate local tourism into the overall package will continue to reduce the well-being of Jamaicans. There are many solutions and there is no need to reinvent the wheel. There is a Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism, which has some limitations but can serve as a model to diversify the national tourism product.

Peter E Edwardsis a marine scientist and environmental economist who worked as an environmental consultant and coral reef scientist at the UWI, Mona. Today he is a doctoral student atFaculty of Marine Policy for Land and Marine Studies, University of Delaware, United States.


1. JSIF Jamaica's community tourism video pitch
(Jamaica Social Investment Fund)
2. CSEC Geography Tourism
3. CAPE Tourism Unit 1 2015 Paper 2
(Wit's Tutoring)
4. Sustainable Tourism - Pillar 1: Community Development
(Ministry of Tourism)
5. 🇯🇲 First time in Jamaica -with @jamaicaSUNRISETV (Ep.1)
(Czech in effect)
6. CAPE Tourism Tourism Impacts Farrah Williams
(ABS TV Antigua)
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