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Tourism: For Whose Benefit?
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Page 1 of 1Total of 12 messages
Posted by:Jul 5th 2007, 12:36:05 pm
Fig Tree News TeamThe debate on 'colonialism' and small islands has highlighted multiple facets
and complex consequences. While we have not been able to post all the
responses received, you will find them on the Small Islands Voice website at

In closing this discussion, here are four extracts from recent messages
received from islanders around the world:

In the real world real, 'Real Politik' involves the ownership of 'raw
material' and the 'Brain Power' to convert that into a commodity that can be
utilized and used to further the specific nation's desires and ambitions. Take
the simple case of 'plastics' - it may seem puny, but how many island nations
do you know that produce this stuff? Mind you, firearms, artilleries,
ammunitions, or better yet nukes for that matter. The belief that cultures are
meant to remain the same is a colonial tool, used to repress old natives into
their own little corners. (writer from Federated States of Micronesia).

The interest of the military being here on our Northern Marianas Islands is
mainly for the purpose of military strategic position, almost like a spot on
the chessboard where if the opponent would make a move, a counter is ready,
therefore advancing to check mate. I am afraid that the cultural values and
tradition will be jeopardized by the Western laws that we are experiencing
now. What more would the military do? (writer from Northern Marianas).

Some island countries have accepted to be colonies when they feel it is very
advantageous for their countries or they are unable to function as a nation
because of national or territorial or resource restrictions. But I wonder to
what extent these people are suffering a silent sense of loss (for
discrimination, loss of tradition, sense of ownership of their resources,
national pride, etc.) or whether they were tamed into resignation and
conformity, or if they really feel fulfilled and happy. It deserves a more
deep and unbiased social survey or research to really assess the effect and
general acceptance of being a colony in these countries. (Pedro Alcolado,

I really do not think that colonialism has much relevance to today's political
and business environment driven by technological advances, free trade and
deregulation. Small island states can opt to preserve their identity and
culture, but in doing so they must create their own way and stop blaming their
failures on their past rulers. Education can be a key factor for success and
happiness. (Ioannis Economides, Cyprus).

Title: Colonialism - time to move on
Author: P. Alcolado, I. Economides, writers from Fed. States of Micronesia
and Northern Marianas
Date: Thursday, 5 July 2007
Posted by:Jun 19th 2007, 05:03:21 pm
Do you live in a small island?
Tell us what you think.

Discussion on the theme of small islands and 'colonialism' continues, with
several contributions highlighting the complexity of the issue.

Colonialism is about power: economic, social, military and political, writes
Laitia Tamata from Fiji (Pacific). States use a combination of these four and
other factors to ensure that they either 'stay in power' or 'do not feel
powerless'. The justification is 'national and international security'. Power
is unfortunately preferred as 'owned' and when 'shared', make states

In the Pacific, there is a proposed Pacific Plan. If done in a way so that the
several interdependent small island nation states become one big united states
or union or federation of states, they can amongst other things realize that
they will own one of the biggest seas, the biggest air space, a population of
close to 10 million. Hence, they can determine trade rules and not being
bullied around, etc. The big question is; in doing so, does the Pacific become
an 'economic, social, military or political threat', 'competitor' or
'partner'? Will the Pacific become another major power so as to threaten the
current power brokers?

In the island of Vieques, in the Puerto Rican archipelago (Caribbean), we
experience a process of neo-colonization, writes Ismael Ortiz. The arrival of
new inhabitants has marked the displacement of local people. The tendency in
my island is the recruitment of people belonging to the investors' same
nationality and, when they hire native people, they demand them to speak both
languages. This demand is typical of those who want to impose their language
as part of the neo-colonization process. Additionally, the customs and habits
of local people are constantly infringed upon.

With the arrival of these new visitors, real estate property value has
increased, so local people cannot compete with the new arriving capital. Our
future becomes uncertain. Our fight to remove the military US navy was to
guarantee our population and future generations a place with more justice. Now
we are on our way to a new type of expropriation, this time due to newly
arrived capital. Can we live in harmony in the same space? The answer is yes,
but respecting our culture, our customs, our hospitality. Recognizing that
there is a native population with deep roots, proud of its history as a
people, which will not allow to be marginalized in their own land.

From Vanuatu (Pacific), Morris Amos writes: Though small, we were independent
and rich in our cultures and livelihood. Now, after being colonized, most of
these livelihood skills, etc. were lost. Upon granting independence, we
struggle again to survive in a different mode of dependency. Many are still in
transition, trying to settle down and still puzzling whether to continue to
follow colonial ways or go back to traditional living. For some the fight is
still on. allows for translation into other languages.
For those who prefer, you may react in Español, Français or Português.

Title: Eroding culture and tradition
Author: M. Amos, I. Ortiz, L. Tamata
Date: Tuesday, 19 June 2007
Posted by:Apr 27th 2007, 02:24:01 pm
Fig Tree News TeamRanging from racial and income divide to ownership and policy issues, this debate, which started with a scrutiny of the tourism industry in the Caribbean islands, has been extremely interesting. While we have not been able to post
all the responses received, you will find them on the Small Islands Voice
website at

In closing this global discussion, here are two final views:

Your articles in the past couple of months have glued me to the monitor due to
the interest and also the reality and emphasis on concerns relating to small
island groups, writes Guy Esparon. I am a Seychellois and, as the Caribbean,
we see ourselves in the same boat with outside interest for all the good of
the country. Unfortunately, the Government sees it as progress but with a
cost. Seychellois will no longer be able to enjoy the beach in the near future
as most of the nice picnic beaches have been taken up by a large hotel chain
and access will be denied due to strict security. Most of the islands are
leased or owned by foreigners and access denied again. This is not a complaint
- just my hurt seeing this unique culture of ours which visitors come to see,
but instead are disappointed as they could have gone back to the Caribbean
once more.

The point I wish to make is that for twelve or more years 'talk has not been
turned into action' and that Caribbean tourism was - and is - unsustainable in
its present form, states Eva Hansen. Tourism growth has given rise to fierce
competition for revenue in which industry and governments fight for market
share. In the process the resource base, the destination, often undergoes
transformation from what was intended to be a non-consumptive renewable
resource industry into yet another boom-and-bust enterprise.

Title: Tourism's (un)sustainability
Author: G. Esparon, E. Hansen
Date: Friday, 27 April 2007
Posted by:Feb 21st 2007, 01:45:31 pm
Do you live in a small island?
Tell us what you think.

There have been many reactions to the article on Caribbean tourism problems.

Here are some responses that show the diversity of views.

To compare modern hotel ownership in the 21st century with 'plantation
operations' of slavery days is being racist, writes Parry Bellot from Dominica
(Caribbean). And the notion that a lack of easy capital is a reason for failure to succeed is an insidious product of a victim culture which holds everyone back, according to Alan Whitaker from St. Vincent & the Grenadines (Caribbean). The opportunities in the small islands of the Caribbean are
abundant and small businesses are much easier for people here to develop than
for people in more competitive continental locations.

Maria Grech cites Saint Lucia (Caribbean) as a good example: A high percentage
of our existing hotels and those under construction and other developments are
owned wholly or in part by Saint Lucians. As far as local involvement and
investment is concerned I think we're doing pretty well. But David Vitalis
cautions: There has been a move by the expatriate companies, including owners
of large hotels, to 'darken' (so to speak) their management teams at the local
level. However, the management power and decision-making rest with people
abroad. Local managers need to wait for orders from outside to answer even
basic questions about industrial relations disputes, for instance.

The situation is rather bleak for Samuel Victoria from the Dominican Republic
(Caribbean). He writes: Most of the hotel chains are foreign-owned, and they
are the ones who generate almost all the money. Local chains usually go
bankrupt when they face foreign competition or, if not, they are eventually
bought by foreign competition. It is true that foreign investment is positive
because it allows the entry of foreign currency, it modernizes local
infrastructure and it generates a lot of work. However, the jobs set aside for
the local population are mainly minimum wage positions, whilst the foreign
personnel is awarded the better positions and wages. If we think about it,
foreign companies only see us as a country of opportunities. They exploit our
tourism areas and obtain very cheap labour.

Moving on to the need for improved policy, Francis Joseph writes: I agree to
integrate and have common policies to promote what is ours, that is the
Caribbean agricultural production, manufacturing and services etc. Bear in
mind that some of us see our foods as inferior to pasta and other foreign
foods and when in Dominica we grew and drank 'bush tea', it was seen as
primitive and hid it from visitors to our islands, and offered them the
imported red rose tea. Now the whole world is drinking and making money out of
bush tea, marketing it as herbal tea. We should be dominating the world market
and industry on this product. What is the matter with us? Oh well, I think I
know! We all wave our own individual and, well yes, independent flags.

Several respondents, especially from the Dominican Republic, also commented on
cruise-ship tourism and all-inclusive hotels. Giana Santana writes: We must
take the initiative of eliminating the 'all-inclusive' mode (not totally
though) so that doors are opened to tourists to explore and get to really know
the country, and as well boost commerce in tourist zones. Investing more money
in cruise tourism instead of modernizing tourist places, attractions, etc.
would be one approach to improve the tourism sector, adds Cassandra Moreta.
Many of these islands have not fully developed this sector, and this is a type
of tourism that is very beneficial, especially due to our island condition.

With so many issues to tackle, the need for a regional Tourism Research and
Development Institute was echoed by a number of respondents. Rosemarie Thomas,
Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean) adds: This is one of the things that we
desperately need in the Caribbean, as there is such a lack of information
sharing across the region.

Bringing in an interregional perspective, James Lukan from the Federated
States of Micronesia (Pacific) says: I myself have visited the Caribbean
islands and must say that they are beautiful and respect all aspects of
development. My small and conservative island of Yap is not even close to what
the Caribbean islands are doing and enjoying. It is in its infancy stage of
tourism and the product is cultures and traditions with some water/ocean
activities. Foreign investment is slowly coming and the local people are
appreciating it. They have come to realize that there are employment
opportunities and the development of other products such as cultural heritage
sites, local dances and other cultural and traditional activities shall be put
in place for visitors and incomes. Partnership with foreign investors is
encouraged. All land in Yap is privately owned, therefore the local partner
would provide the land and foreign investors would provide the capital. I am
inviting comments from you and for you to share it with the investors who are
already in the Caribbean who might be interested to look into Yap for possible
investment. allows for translation into other languages.
For those who prefer, you may react in Español, Français or Português.

Title: Our land and foreign investment – a fine balance
Author: Bellot, Grech, Joseph, Lukan, Moreta, Samuel, Santana, Thomas and
Date: Wednesday, 21 February 2007
Posted by:Feb 8th 2007, 02:08:52 pm
KimberlyThere was a glitch overnight with the host provider for, and I think that we lost three or four new messages. Nothing was deliberately removed, so please feel free to repost.

Thanks for understanding --
Posted by:Feb 8th 2007, 12:00:18 pm
speecha posting has dissappeared, it raised an issue that we cannot avoid, the colionial and slaveery implications in the title 'master plan'. it could be that this is best not discussed on the briland modem board if that is how people feel then please remove this message i will understand!
Posted by:Feb 8th 2007, 11:55:20 am
speechCan we send this article too Perry Christie? PEOPLE? SHIA?
Posted by:Feb 8th 2007, 02:19:06 am
BrilandkidRichard P. Promises are only comfort to a fool. We have already been taken for a fool by our Government.we have been living on promises how many more we need??
Posted by:Feb 7th 2007, 02:22:59 pm

Thanks for that advise, We (the PEOPLE Group) Believe in ideas that stem from PEOPLE thus our name.

People Empowering Other People Lovingly Everyday
Posted by:Feb 7th 2007, 01:49:43 pm
Richard PI'm convinced that the problem is the structure of the Bahamian government. As long as there is one central government with complete control over legislation, taxation, and spending, then the local governments will be powerless.

The solution is a devolution of power -- giving local governments their own right to tax and regulate, specifically in the area of local development.

Abaco, anyone?

There is an election coming up. This seems to me to be a golden opportunity for Bahamians. Insist that whichever party wants your vote must promise to give local governments the budgetary and legal authority to control local development.

That is why political parties exist ... to advance ideas that come from the people.
Posted by:Feb 7th 2007, 01:21:20 pm
speechwow! i mean this is really alot of what we're dealing with isn't it. the small islands voice is associated with the small island developing states, arm of the united nations(SIDS, google it) i think? my point being just maybe there is someone in that body who advises governments that could put international pressure on the bahamas government to protect the environment and local human rights. dunno just a thought, thank you fig tree news team for contributing to and falciltating this important discussion.
Posted by:Feb 7th 2007, 01:12:27 pm

Do you live in a small island?
Tell us what you think!


The notion of a racial divide in the Caribbean tourism industry is a problem
that dare not speak its name. It creates discomfort among many of the
expatriate hotel owners and managers, and governments are fearful of dealing
with it.

Tourism is now a huge contributor to the economies of all Caribbean countries
and the biggest contributor to many of them such as Antigua and Barbuda,
Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands. In 2004, travel and tourism
contributed 14.8% of the Caribbean’s Gross Domestic Product and 2.4 million
jobs, representing 15.5% of total employment. Over the next ten years, these
figures are expected to rise.

There are several pressing problems associated with Caribbean tourism. One of
the most important is the racial divide between its ownership and management
on the one hand, and its workers on the other. And, this problem is likely to
worsen in the future unless it is tackled now. Given the size of financial
investments that will be required for resorts in the Caribbean, it will be
principally white expatriate companies with access to capital that will build
and own the resorts and other aspects of the tourism business. Tourism may in
fact become a plantation industry not dissimilar to the old sugar plantations,
with absentee owners, expatriate managers, profits sent abroad and locals
relegated to wage earners only. And not unlike the plantation system, if the
disparity of benefits grows between foreign owners and local workers, revolts
may occur starting with industrial unrest but expanding to other forms of
social instability.

Furthermore, if World Trade Organization rules continue to develop in the way
that they are, companies from developed countries will have the right of
establishment in the service industries of developing countries, including the
Caribbean, almost on demand. Thus, the obvious racial divide between the
owners and the workers in the tourist industry – and the unevenness of the
benefits – will intensify. To pretend that the problem does not exist would be
as unwise for hoteliers as it would be imprudent for governments.

The balance between cruise ship tourism and land-based tourism is another
issue that needs addressing. Increasingly governments are being encouraged to
spend tax dollars on infrastructure for cruise ships. Hoteliers argue that
governments should improve and expand airports, modernise utilities, and
create new tourist attractions. In the absence of studies that scientifically
analyse the different positions, government allocation of scarce resources has
been based on hunches and political pressure.

The same observation holds for all-inclusive holidays in which hotels trap
visitors within their compounds. Should governments continue to use taxpayers’
money to build airports – and in some cases to subsidise flights by foreign
airlines – simply to supply a few hotels with captive guests, while
restaurants, shops, arts and craft centres, and street vendors outside the
hotels see no benefit at all?

Despite much talk, the Caribbean has failed to act in a serious way to
integrate Caribbean agricultural production, manufacturing and services with
the tourism industry. Much of the food consumed by the tourism industry is
still imported from outside the region as are manufactured products and

Policies should be put in place to ensure that benefits from tourism are
spread widely throughout Caribbean communities, not only in providing jobs,
but more importantly in facilitating ownership. Such policies should be guided
by research conducted by a Tourism Research and Development Institute, housed
in one of the region’s universities. The Institute should be funded by
governments, the Caribbean Hotel Association and other private sector
organisations in the region. It is in the interest of the wider private sector
to support such an Institute, for if tourism is the engine of economic growth
in the region, then almost every enterprise in the private sector is dependent
upon it to some extent.

Such an Institute could provide the scientific studies and plans to turn two
decades of talk into action. One thing is certain: if there is not serious
research and development of the tourism industry, it may continue to
contribute to Caribbean economic growth and development, but not for long.

Adapted from a newspaper article by Ronald Sanders in The Island Sun. allows for translation into other languages.
For those who prefer, you may react in Español, Français or Português.

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