“Please keep visiting. Because of your tourism, I am not an illegal immigrant in your country.” Those were the first words heard from a humble taxi driver when entering the country of the Bahamas. Although having visited the country seven times before, it took a quick thirty seconds to learn the depths of tourism and the personal impact on impoverished countries.
Rich in spirit and culture, the Bahamas, like the rest of the world, is currently suffering from an economic crisis that has traumatically dampered the growth of what could be a successful and rich country. Has our vacationing become the only sense of income to troubled paradises?
On the short ride from airport to high-end hotels, one is certainly not blind to recognize the lack of work opportunity and poor conditions that lay outside the embellished resorts. No matter how turquoise the water maybe or how white the sand may sparkle, no beauty can override the fight to make ends-meet.
These observations do not just stand for the Bahamas but numerous countries that we as Americans flee to for vacation, includes Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Recent reports show that tourism in the 700 islands of the Bahamas creates over 60 percent of gross domestic product from tourism.
According to statistical reports from the United Nations department of tourism, in 2009 a total of 927 million people traveled this past year, essentially employing 220 million people. Many Caribbean countries have resulted and implemented tourism as the answer when coming to poverty elimination projects and primary financial strategies.
“I have nothing else but the bags I make. This is my life. I need people to purchase them,” Denise, market vender, said. Her plea each and everyday is to bargain prices with tourists, hoping a $20 purchase for a straw hand made bag will be sufficient enough to cover her electric bill that is six months past due.
“If I was not able to work here at the hotel, my family would go hungry,” doorman at Sheraton Hotel said.
This doorman’s story is not much different then most employees found throughout the islands. He was born in poverty and witnessed his parents struggle to provide necessary needs. Now as an adult with two young children, he refuses to follow in the unsuccessful steps of his parents, even if that means holding a door open, day in and day out.
Lack of decent and livable standards often leads to crime and other negative attributes. This then brings upon false and unwanted connotations to countries that immensely want to share their beauty with worldly travelers.
The key and often the most prominent struggle is maintaining a unique culture and a promising identity. This is essentially the only way to cultivate tourists in wanting to create memories in these countries.
“I feel blessed to work here at the Atlantis resort. My friends would kill for this job,” KJ, a lifeguard of 5 years, said.
While floating in the clear water searching for jellyfish and feeding the angel fish, KJ openly shared the benefits and the secured opportunities that the resorts and hotels offer, making jobs more available for those in need of economic advancements.
If America continues to face a downfall in our economy, less people will choose to travel, for there are far more important things to cover financially then lavish vacations. So because of our current frugal living, we as an interconnected world face serious downfalls when trying to enhance global tourism.