Street vendors and merchants in most of the islands of the Caribbean depend solely on tourists that come pouring off of the cruise ships for business. It may sound very impressive if I told you that the cruise industry provides $2 billion a year to the Caribbean in revenue. However, a very small percentage of that gigantic number actually stays in the pockets of the locals or even in the country. Leakage in the Caribbean continues to be an issue for many of the island nations.
According to skift.com the top three countries that are most dependent upon cruise tourism are St. Kitts and Nevis with 5.9% GDP, Antigua and Barbuda with 4.1% GDP, and Belize with 4.0% GDP. In the past, tourists have not been eager to spend their money at local merchants in port versus on the boat. St. Kitts has implemented some changes in its port to appeal more to tourists. By vamping up its duty-free shopping options and offering a variety of land based tours through out the island, the average amount a tourist will spend is $100. That is more than double what tourists were spending just six years ago.
Although the following statistics are a bit dated they can still provide a base to start from and imagine where these numbers are at now. A report published in 2001 by the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association told that cruise related spending created 60,136 jobs for Caribbean residents. Out of all the tourists that visited the Caribbean on a cruise 45.6% of them were from North America. Also, 80% of cruise tourists reported "high degree of satisfaction" with their destination they visited. A little over half, 51.6% of passengers expressed an "interest in returning to the port of call" for a future vacation spent just on the island. Finally an average cruise ship with about 2,000 passengers and 900 crew members can provide approximately $259,000 at a single port of call visit.
Despite all of the negatives the industry brings to the islands, I can understand a little better now why islands are even making efforts to become more appealing to ships and have them use their ports. As with everything in the world money talks, makes the world go round, etc. However, this doesn't mean that actions shouldn't be taken to ensure that these islands and its people aren't being exploited. Feel free to check out my info-graphic on environmental and economic impacts of cruise ships in the Caribbean.
I created this info-graphic in hopes of continuing to raise awareness of the impact that cruise ships are having in the Caribbean Sea and the islands located there in. My hopes are that if anyone reads this info graphic they will answer at least one of the calls to action that I have listed at the bottom. While it may seem like a small step at this point, the consequence of fulfilling any one of these call to action has the potential to affect the situation in the Caribbean in a big way. If each person that read this and visited the Caribbean, intentionally spending $20 more dollars at a local business in port, it would increase the quality of life for multiple locals and their families. Maybe another person doesn't have plans to visit the islands but wants to help raise awareness about this issue and becomes an advocate for stricter environmental laws and policies when it comes to local government's involvement with cruise line companies. Every effort has the potential to better the situation of the people in Caribbean and preserve the unique, breathe-taking nature that is found there.
The Caribbean islands have an especially difficult time getting a fair price for many of their goods and services because frankly, they don't have the push or connections to demand fair trade. So as a result they take what they can get which in many cases is next to nothing. Definitely not enough to live on and support any kind of family or children.
Two young Europeans wanted to help address this issue and in 1990 they started to provide the people in Haiti with training so that they could develop skills in many different forms of artistry. The two men also helped to find export markets for all the new crafts that were being produced by the people of Haiti. Caribbean Crafts is a company that is based out of Port-au-Prince, Haiti and coordinates production of exports at a wholesale price.
Fair Working Conditions: Many of you know that Haiti has been in the news in the recent past for the natural disasters that they have suffered. Caribbean crafts aims to aid their artists in the event of these natural disasters with insurance, fair wages, and interest free loans that will help them meet their needs.
Fair Prices: By selling their exports at wholesale prices that both parties can agree upon, Caribbean Crafts can pay their artists a fair wage and the buyers can afford the exports.Integration Into the Local Economy and Regional Development: "Caribbean Crafts...has created jobs for hundreds of local artisans, providing income for over 500 families in 2008." While I can't say a surety, I can only believe that number has grown since then. Haitian people take pride in being able to earn an honest wage and are better enabled to take control of their lives. "In 2006, Caribbean Craft became a Haitian women owned company."
Fair Trade Partnerships Between All Actors in Tourism: Again, thanks to the nature of wholesale, well established companies in the United States and Canada continue to buy from Caribbean Crafts.
Sustainable Resource Use and Environmental Justice: Perhaps the most interesting and impressive aspect of Caribbean Crafts is their efforts to be ecologically minded in the production of their crafts. They strive to create many of their products using recycled material. Their "oil drum art" is very popular and is known around the world. They also use many local resources such as making their own glue from the starch of the locally grown manioc. "Caribbean Craft long term vision is to continue producing in a sustainable manner and to increase the diversity of art..."
I have been reading a lot about the different islands in the Caribbean Sea and was both surprised and delighted to see how much of an emphasis Puerto Rico is putting on sustainability in every aspect possible. The website seepuertorico.com offers loads of information of different sustainable categories such as: green hotels, Eco-tourism, Agrotourism, and community-based tourism. Since, Puerto Rico is one of the territories of the U.S. tourists that are U.S. citizens do not even need a passport to visit the island.
The Turtle Bay Inn is just one of Puerto Rico's Eco-green hotels on the island. Through the use of photovoltaic technology, a Direct Solar-Powered System, the hotel is able to acquire 90% of the their energy needs. Excess energy is also able to be stored for use at night-time. The hotel is able to provide 700 gallons of hot water to their guests using 3 Turbo solar water heaters. They also have meters that are continuously monitoring energy consumption and storage; only using what they need to make efforts not to waste energy. The hotels current project is monitoring wind power for the hopes of installing a wind turbine that would make-up the remaining 5-10% of energy they need to be completely 100% self-sufficient of electricity.
Turtle Bay strives to share with their guests the view they have on sustainability and the effort they have made to be more Eco-friendly. Through example they encourage their guests to help them accomplish their goal of protecting the environment, to reduce the use of water, and recycle as much waste as possible.
"Recipient of the Certification Sustainable Toursim Facilty in October 2012 by CTPR. Is the third hotel in Puerto Rico with this recognition."
Cruise lines, whether for good or bad, play an essential role for the islands in the beautiful Caribbean. I was lucky enough to take a cruise with my family to the Caribbean and was in awe the entire time of the majestic landscapes and a kind of clear blue water I had never seen before. It didn't occur to me then but since I started studying Sustainable Tourism at the University of Utah I have thought back on that trip and have begun to wonder what it takes to have massive cruise ships constantly sailing through these waters. How are the locals effected by the thousands of passengers that disembark the vessel on a regular basis? How detrimental are the ships to the local waters? Are there any measures that are being taken to make the ships more sustainable? So, my hope for this blog is to educate myself and any of you out there reading of the effects that the cruise industry is having on these islands. My goal is not to take any side but rather offer facts of the situation and explore the good as well as the bad.
As a Parks, Recreation, and Tourism student I have decided to create a blog that focuses on the effect that the cruise line industry has on one of its most popular destinations, The Caribbean. I will use this blog to explore both the good and bad that comes from this massive industry.