Monday, December 7, 2009

Tourism and the Caribbean

Tourism is the driving force behind many of the smaller Caribbean islands economies. Barbados, Antigua, Jamaica, and many other islands are dependent on the on the people that come to their islands for fun in the son to keep their fragile economies intact. However, the tourism industry could be killing these small places instead of saving them as long as the tourists do not know what they are doing to the places they visit. Jamaica Kinkaid outlines the problems with ignorant tourism in her short novel “A Small Place”. There are many problems facing these places like pollution from Caribbean cruise ships that could in turn destroy them entirely.
One major way that cruise ships are adding to the pollution problems in the Caribbean is the unbelievable amount of waste that they rack up. “A single cruise ship produces per person, per day, 1 kg burnable waste, .5 kg food waste and 1 kg glass and tin” (Uebersax, 1996). Now take those numbers, multiply them by about 300, and then multiply them by about 4 (average cruise length). That is an ungodly amount of waste. The simple fact of the matter is that that waste cannot stay on the boat. Most of the time a cruise ship will dump that waste deep into international waters to prevent it from reaching shore, which is not always illegal. However, they often do not take into account the strong currents that will pull much of that crap, no pun intended, into shore. Sometimes the cruise ship will just dump their trash in harbor, which is extremely illegal (Uebersax, 1996). This dumping destroys the pristine beach lines and crystal clear blue waters that draw the tourists in the first place. If this problem continues, tour businesses will literally put themselves out of business by killing what people want to see. It also effects the local populations by killing off fish, making resources like drinking water unusable, and making many people extremely ill.
So what can we do to stop it? Unfortunately, the answer is not so easy. The current measures taken on cruise ships to dispose of waste are very limited. Some simply try to recycle their waste so they do not have so much to dump. Most do not. One answer could be incineration. Burning the waste could provide a safe way of disposing of the waste and also it could provide a way of powering the ships in little areas. The only problem with this approach would be that the ash made by burning this waste would have to be disposed of as well and that could be even more damaging if it is dropped in the ocean (Uebersax, 1996). Another solution proposed would be on shore waste treatment plants on the islands. This would prevent the ships from dumping anything into the water at all. While this seems to be the best solution, it is also problematic. The fact is that the locations that many of the ships go to are very poor countries that cannot even take care of their own waste, let alone that from a cruise ship. They cannot do this alone and without foreign support it may never get done (Uebersax, 1996).
In conclusion, the points of reports like this and Jamaica Kinkaid’s novel “A Small Place” is not to tell people not to go on trips and cruises. Instead, it encourages travel, but makes people aware of the effect the make when they travel. Ignorant tourism could cripple the tourism industry and damage some of the most beautiful places on Earth. We must be aware of the footprint we leave when we leave.
Works Cited
Uebersax, M. B. (1996, August). Cruise Ship Pollution in the Caribbean. Retrieved from

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