Tourism is a thriving sector in the Caribbean thanks to the appealing waters

Tourism is a thriving sector in the Caribbean thanks to the appealing waters, beaches, warm climate and their scenic environment. However, this economic sector has brought about both negative and positive impact affecting the region economically, socially and even ecologically. Even though the sector is doing very well and expanding every day it has caused alarm because the environmental problems it is bringing as well. With increased environmental concerns in the world today such as pollution, bio-diversity and climate status is important to establish how this booming sector is impacting the concern as well as other impacts it has on this region. And, hence the research objective in this research was to establish the environmental and economic impact of tourism in the Caribbean. The paper addresses the background information pertaining to the sector, the existing information on the sector in form of literature review and the findings of the research.
Background information
For tourism to exist there must be existence of unique resources such beautiful sandy beaches. Tourists in the Caribbean region have been for long been faulted for wastage of such resources as freshwater and energy which are in limited supply and need economical usage. The appetite for extravagant luxurious lives by the tourists and the effort put forward to meet these options is compromising the ecosystem. Construction of hotels near the waters is affecting coral reefs and the species depend on them. The general environmental impact and the economic benefits of tourism have raised concerns lately.
Literature Review
Some of the positive effects of tourism sector in the Caribbean tourism that is one of the backbones of many economies in the world today and it is no different in Jamaica and other Caribbean countries either. Tourism can be described as then one of the biggest contributor to the GDP of many countries. In 2013 alone, tourism contributed to 14% of their GDP (Rochelle, p.12). High GDP translates to economic improvement, better living standards and development.
Secondly, in response to growth associated with tourism and tourism activities, the infrastructure aiding it has also drastically increased and improved over time. This is in terms of both technical infrastructure and other supporting industries. Some of the infrastructural changes that have been witnessed are in aviation, railway, hospitality, and production sectors. Some other established benefits of tourism include job creation, and raised living standards through availability of income and passive conservation of natural habitat.
Thirdly, it is source of employment to the local population. 11.3% of the Carribbean jobs depend on tourism directly or indirectly (Rochelle, p. 25). It is well known that the Caribbean region is the most tourism –dependent in the world today. Some of the leading in the region include Barbuda, Virgin Islands, Bahamas and Antigua.
On the other hand, tourism has been established to be one of the leading causes of environmental degradation. According to Caribbean Environment Program the tourists are thought to be producing up to four times more waste than the local residents. Littering and their little concern to the environment leads to accumulation of waste in the shores and even in the waters largely affecting marine quality of life. Tourism is one of the largest causes of marine pollution. This is caused by such issues as spillages by ships ferrying tourists and the high amounts of emissions. One single cruise ship produces on average 210,000 gallons of sewage of which 125 is toxic chemicals hazardous to the environment (Duval 2004). This is in addition to 8 tons of garbage and 25000 gallons of oily water. According to Netburn (n.d), studies established that approximately 8% of all green-house emissions is due to transport emissions and marine littering has damaged the environment and the marine life contributing to death of coral reefs by 14%.
Tourism has been associated also with wastage of resources (Dixon, p.9). Tourists usually use more resources compared to the local residents. This is in terms of such resources as freshwater, energy among others.
Results/Findings
Impacts of Tourism on Environment.
Some of the environmental effects of tourism in Caribbean include the following.
Some of the established negative effects of tourism in the region include such factors as increased greenhouse gases which arise out of the travelling and transportation involved. This has also been confirmed by the Caribbean Environment Program. Secondly, tourism is causing disturbance and stress to the flora and fauna in their natural habitat. It also affects the efforts directed towards conservation and halters the ecosystem balance greatly. With some of the biggest causes of this been littering which ultimately leads to the many different forms of pollution such as water pollution. Tourism has been directly linked as one of the causes of marine pollution and degradation of the ecosystem.
Thirdly, Waste and cleaning services in the Caribbean countries cannot cope with the large number of waste produced by tourists. This has lead to accumulation of solid waste in the environment which not only creates ugly sites and pests breeding areas but also degrades the environment. As already identified the tourists are generating more solid waste than the residents. Caribbean Environment Program has also confirmed the solid waste and marine litter management in tourism sector is inefficient.
Fourthly, in transport sector although a lot of investment and efforts have been made by cruise ships to manage their waste through better sewage systems , recycling programs and use of bio-friendly alternatives, only the damage caused has reduced over time but the quantity discharged is still high and hence still compromising the marine life quality.
Fifthly, Tourism leads to destruction of environment and resources. With increased demand for water, energy and high-end facilities in tourism causes wastage and depletion of resources. Some of the facilities are built on narrow coastlines. These coastlines are ecologically important for breeding purposes of local wildlife and hence construction of these facilities lead to destruction of sensitive areas important for reproduction and this may endanger long-term existence of some species. The encroachment of virgin water ecosystems has also caused destruction of coral reefs. The recreational facilities sometimes encroach the ecological zones and causes loss of biodiversity while at the same time disturbing the normal life of the organisms still in these areas.
Lastly, on a positive note preservation of historical attractions has been achieved through tourism. This is because these places and all what is of big interest to tourists has patronage and hence security which brings assurance of long-term preservation.
Impact of Tourism on Economy
As aforementioned tourism is a backbone to many Caribbean countries and greatly impacts the economy positively. Tourism benefits these countries in some of the following ways.
Tourism leads to job creation through expansion of job market. The facilities necessary for tourism to run smoothly such as hotels, recreation areas, entertainment and maintenance needs human capital hence employment opportunities for the people in the island. Some of the most common jobs people get include such jobs as tour guides, life savers and in gastronomy.
Secondly, tourism is a source of foreign exchange. This is in the sense that tourists from different parts of the world tend to spend in terms of standard currencies hence strengthening of the local currency. Through their expenditure the businesses accelerate consequently boosting the economy. It is through the zeal to set up support activities and intend to meet the unique tourist’s wants that local industries have grown. Some of these industries include retail trading, food and beverage production industry, agricultural sector among others.
Thirdly, Due to tourism property and real estate has grown with increased demand of property in the areas of tourist attraction. This has both positive and negative effect in that the prices have hiked to record high and on the other hand the local real estate industry is booming and hence enjoying high returns.
Conclusion
In the Caribbean region, performance of the economies are highly influenced by tourism. This largely contributes to stabilization of the economy. Tourism is then for mutual benefit of both the private individuals and the administrative government. Unfortunately, in as much as the positive side of the tourism is seemingly overshadowing the negative side the ecological systems greatly get destroyed by tourism. The governments are therefore collaborating closely with tourism sectors to ensure the environment is protected for both economic, ethical and environmental reasons.