REPORT #514 September 2002
CARIBBEAN CRUISE SHIP SUSTAINABLE TOURISM PROBLEMS!


by Silvia Pinzon MLIS ( Sept. 5th, 2002

In response to a recent flurry of concerns in Belize about cruise ship tourism on the Belize Culture Listserve debating forum, I took the time to do some research. According to; Dr. Nancy del Risco, professor of Sustainable Tourism at Florida International University. Cruise ship effects on small undeveloped countries of the Caribbean, like Belize are the hot item in new graduate studies. New courses are being developed, though the problems being encountered in Belize are old, when compared to places like Nepal and Bhutan and other remote third world countries, where these problems and solutions first developed in the two decades past.

There are a host of issues with trying to encourage sustainable cruise ship tourism in the Caribbean and in Belize in particular. Among the most common issues, are waste disposal, visits to ecological sensitive areas and the need to spread the cruise ship visitor dollar among many more small entrepreneurs. Admittedly a difficult thing to accomplish, when a ship disgorges hundreds, or thousands of people several times a week, for only two to four hours.

For the more curious on this subject; there are many papers on the internet, using the GOOGLE.COM search engine. You can type in "sustainable tourism", or "Caribbean cruise ship sustainable tourism" and find many studies. Florida International University a state university in South Florida, Miami area, also offers a new degree in this subject.

There are many ideas available. For example: the government can increase port taxes for cruise ships to cut down on the number of ships and visitors, in order to protect the environment and sensitive areas and still retain the same foreign exchange cash income flows. Though there is a tendency for small governments to collect the money and put it into general funds to pay off other foreign currency international debt obligations and do nothing concrete with those funds.

One issue that has constantly arisen worldwide, has been the concentration of services and tours in cruise ship tourism into monopolies; that are favored often by the politically connected. The problem of spreading out the benefits of the dollar flow to more local small entrepreneurs, competes with the need to handle huge numbers of visitors in very short time periods. But historically, the monopolies of handling cruise ship packages are usually criminal concentrations. Though at first they are sold to the local populace from different self serving agendas and publicity.

The OAS has assistance grants for the many studies that are required; to effectively get the best deal out of cruise ship visits in the Caribbean small nations. These cover many subjects like; counseling bureaucrats, counseling politicians, negotiating different contract types, marketing studies. There are such suggestions as; special fees to mass visitor groups, who are descending on very small ecological spots and you can levy a special tax for places that have "good views" for instance.

There are tons of books and materials on the internet and in full text paid subscription educational data banks, that the library services in Florida provide, covering this subject. As an information specialist, that is my job. Have fun!

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