Social Sustainability and Ecotourism: Rethinking Development for Social and Environmental well-being in the Caribbean

By Veronica Dujon.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Many countries in the Caribbean are exploring ecotourism, alongside mass tourism, as a development strategy in the period following the collapse of export crop industries. Ecotourism as a strategy for economic development has produced mixed, if not disappointing, outcomes for the lives of the majority of people where it has been attempted (Honey 1999; Sinclair 1998). This article makes the argument that successful pursuit of ecotourism to promote integrated economic and social development can be enhanced when there is potential for the adverse impacts of tourism to be mitigated by the presence of certain structural domestic conditions. Using evidence from the island state of St. Lucia where a programmatic effort by the state to promote heritage tourism has been in operation for almost two decades the theoretical argument is made that ecotourism that relies on the unique structure of local ownership of productive resources, supported by technical skill supplied by the state, facilitates greater participation in the tourist sector on terms advantageous to economically and socially marginalized participants. Thus far the Programme has encouraged environmental awareness and cultural appreciation in the local population, encouraged entrepreneurial activity, and diversified entry into an enclave sector through avenues other than cheap unskilled seasonal work. The article concludes with an examination of the prospect for this effort to contribute to more widespread development policy focused on social and environmental well-being.

Keywords: Ecotourism, Heritage Tourism, Social and Economic Development, Small Island States, Human Centered Development, Caribbean

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.181-192. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 614.447KB).

Prof. Veronica Dujon

Professor and Department Chair, Department of Sociology, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, USA

Veronica Dujon received her bachelor’s degree from the University of the West-Indies, Barbados. She received her master’s and PhD degrees in Land Resources/Sociology in 1995, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is now Professor and Chair in the Department of Sociology at Portland State University. Dujon teaches, conducts research and publishes in the areas of environmental sociology with a focus on contests over declining natural resources; sociology of globalization; women in the global economy; and the tensions between national development strategies and forces of globalization. One of her major research interest areas is how to build socially sustainable societies. Among her publications are an article entitled “Local Actors, Nation States, and Their Global Environment: Conceptualizing Successful Resistance to the Anti-Social Impacts of Globalization” (Critical Sociology, 2002), and an edited volume Understanding the Social Dimension of Sustainability [Routledge 2009] on which she is a co-editor. In this volume she has a chapter entitled: “In the Absence of Affluence: The Struggle for Social Sustainability in the Third World.”

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