Economic, Social Impact of Tourism

A controversial  article was published in the the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper in 2009 titled ” Economic, Social Impact of tourism”. This article takes a deep look at the tourism industry especially as it pertains to Jamaica and points out the problem with this structure . The author then makes some noteworthy suggestions for improving this system, which if followed by the government and board of tourism could help in creating a sustainable and long lasting tourism model in Jamaica.

Article:”Economic, Social Impact of Tourism” by Peter Edwards:

Jamaica’s current model of tourism is deeply flawed and will continue to have a negative effect on the island and its people if it is not corrected.

“The Jamaican tourism industry accounts for 32 per cent of total employment and 36 per cent of the country’s GDP according to many studies”

This point demonstrates that Jamaica’s economy is heavily vested in the tourism industry so it is important that the country take active measures to see to it that the environment is protected and  sustainable which would in turn promote a sustainable economy. 

How much of the average spent tourists dollar actually benefits the country one might wonder? I was suprised to learn that for every $100 spent, only on average of $5 actually benefits the Jamaican economy!

“For the all-inclusive tourism model, studies show that about 80 per cent of travellers’ expenditures go to the airlines, hotels and other international companies, and not to local businesses or workers. In addition, significant amounts of income actually retained at the destination level can leave again through leakage. For example, the profits gained by foreign-owned tour operators, airlines, hotels, are repatriated to their home countries. Estimates made for Third World countries range from 80 per cent in the Caribbean to 40 per cent in India. In layman’s term, on average, of each US$100 spent on a vacation tour by a tourist from a developed country, only about US$5 actually stays in the developing-country destination’s economy.”

Also noteworthy in this article is the fact thatJamaica’s tourism is heavily dependent on the health of the natural environment, primarily because it is a sun and sand destination. Therefore it should be made top priority that these natural systems be protected to enjoy futre benefit.

“These ecosystems are threatened by natural causes and human behavior such as coastal pollution, rapid coastline development, over fishing and global warming.”

 The article also argues that in order for this system to sustain itself, all parties must take pro-active measures in “management of environmental resource base” and do their part to support this management. If the environment is degraded then all parties will lose out.

“Jamaica’s tourism product is dependent on the coral reefs and their associated ecosystems such as sea-grass beds and mangroves. These ecosystems are, however, threatened by natural causes and human behavior such as coastal pollution, rapid coastal development, over-fishing and global warming. All parties involved (the citizens, the tourism industry and the visitors) have a vested interest in the management of the environmental resource base and an obligation to do their part to support this management. If the environment is degraded all parties stand to lose – visitors will fail to come (or will be willing to pay less) and the countries will lose an important source of economic benefit. In other words the environment will produce reduced economic, ecological, and amenity benefits.”


Therefore the editor illustrates that the success and sustainability of the tourism industry, Jamaican economy and environment is really a symbiotic relationship between all of these actors.




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