Understanding local perceptions of an economy in transition : Tourism in South Caicos, TCI Public

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/honors_college_theses/9c67wp85k

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  • Tourism presents a significant challenge for island economies in the Global South attempting to improve local standards of living. Due to limited resources and often low education levels of island residents, tourism development frequently becomes a tool for foreign investors to profit while local people continue to work low-income jobs. Additionally, development schemes often disregard local culture and degrade environmental resources. South Caicos is one island in the midst of this conundrum: it has four hotels underway and a population anxious for an economic boost. Based on interviews and focus groups with South Caicos islanders, this thesis uses a political ecology lens to examine residents’ perceptions of the country’s transition from fishing to tourism. Results indicate that current levels of environmental awareness and community involvement are low, and most residents are positively anticipating the changes that tourism development will bring. Still, most islanders wish to preserve the island’s peace and serenity through a low-profile, ecotourism plan. Tailored strategies are presented for South Caicos to achieve this development goal through improved environmental education, sustainable tourism development, and community involvement. Results should help illuminate local residents’ desired development plans and thus aid the national government in creating sustainable plans for the island’s economy and environment.
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