The Negative Effects of Tourism

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THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF TOURISM
on the ECOLOGY of JAMAICA

by
Elaina Kozyr

BLPR 101.51

Introduction

Tourism and the environment have a very complex and interdependent relationship. Today, tourism is one of the largest industries in today's world economy and is a great source of foreign exchange for many developing countries, whose major assets are their natural resources.1 At the same time, it is the environmental quality of a place that will determine the success of the tourism industry, since it is the main attraction for tourists. There have been a lot of arguments about whether tourism is beneficial or harmful to the environment. A lot of the developing countries whose main source of foreign exchange is tourism industry overlook certain setbacks such as the fact that sometimes they are not prepared to meet and support such a vast amount of people. Most of the islands in the Caribbean, including Jamaica, try to make the best out of this, taking everything out of the environment and causing damage to their land that sometimes can be permanent.

Not only do they use up their natural resources to support the growing tourism industry, but they also deprive local population of what is righifully theirs. It is sad to see how developing countries try to stay afloat in this competitive world, how they are pressured to do everything and anything so that they could be economically one step up from where they were before. Yet, all they do is take and take without putting much back in. It doesn't work that way, in fact, everything and everybody in some way depend on one another. This brings us to the point that even tough economic well being and development of the country depends on this multi-million industry, tourism has its downside. Negative effects caused by tourism industry can be very costly to the country and its population.

For the island of Jamaica as well as other islands, the effects include pollution animal and plant extinction, coral reef destruction, inadequate sewage and waste disposal system, deforestation, destruction and erosion of the beaches. This doesn't seem like a lot, but as the time goes by, the problem intensifies especially if there is nothing done about it. Local community suffers as well, through shortages of water and natural resources; most of the local population of Jamaica does not directly benefit from the industry at all. An example of this would be the food that is used by hotels, it is exported and almost nothing is purchased from the Jamaican community.

Jamaica's Fragile Environment and Tourism

Jamaica is an island paradise located in the northern Carribean. It is one of the islands that is visited by hundreds of thousands tourist annually. The main attraction is its natural beauty: sandy beaches, clear water, distinguished wildlife, and, of course, warm climate. Jamaica has been once known as the land of wood and water, and the rich diversity of flora and fauna is still amazing to this day. There are reported to be about 3,000 species of flowering plants alone, 827 of which are not found anywhere else. There are also 25 species and 21 subspecies of birds which are found nowhere else.2

Jamaica relies heavily on its tourism industry; however, in the process, ecology of the island is suffering. Every little thing that is done to accommodate tourists sets Jamaica one step back on the environmental scale. This is also due to the fact that there is little done to improve present conditions of the island. The government, in an attempt to encourage tourism investment, has let the hoteliers to keep their money where they want.

Basically, the owner or operator of an approved hotel enterprise or resort cottage is entitled to relief from income and dividend tax for a period of up to ten years. In addition, the owner may also benefit from a duty exemption on imports for constructing or expanding hotels3. So, all of this profit is usually kept in private offshore...
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