WHAT WOULD TOURISM LOOK LIKE IN THE HANDS OF THE LOCALS?
When you think of tourism specifically in the Caribbean what do you think about? Is it sunbathing on the beach with a cocktail at your side? Is it barhopping or playing in the casinos? Does that Caribbean life that pops into your head display an image that truly reflects what Caribbean is, much less do you ever you ever picture the locals in your vision at any point beyond the point of serving you? The Caribbean region is considered the most heavily dependent region for mass tourism, bringing in a min of $49m US yearly. However, what is not known is only 30% of the profit remains in the entire region and up to 2/3rds of hotels, tours companies, Airbnb, and anything heavily related to tourism is foreign owned. As a Caribbean person I have seen the impacts, both positive and negative of mass tourism. What I have not seen in depth in my years is how it helps develop the other sectors in the region. Although I have seen positive the negatives outweigh. Thus, I have always wondered what tourism would look if it was in the hands of locals. What would tourism offer in its true form rather than what foreign companies wanted?
What would tourism look like while acknowledging and respecting the islands ecosystem, ancestors, and culture? The Caribbean ecosystem is very important as it feeds, homes, shelters and keeps the citizens alive. Unfortunately, in many cases this is not understood by foreign companies as they have little to no knowledge of this and leads to exploitation and disrespect to the environment and inconsiderate to the social and cultural effect on the islands. For decades Caribbean people have questioned why tourism could not be a blend of eco, cultural and sustainable tourism that is accessible by both locals and tourists and benefits or assist other sectors on the island.
The masqueraders become the guardians of the island, observing the tourist’s behaviour and interaction on the site, on the island and with the residents. The garden is divided into several gardens all with a purpose of helping different sectors and assist in restoration and conservation of the islands ecosystem. Designed to surround its activities to accessing the festival is only granted by the masqueraders. The masqueraders either deny or grant access to the St Patrick’s festival.