Date of Award
Master of Arts in Marine Affairs
The wider Caribbean region is at a critical juncture in its development as a tourism dependent regional economy. After more than twenty years of outstanding growth in tourist arrivals and foreign currency earning, the prospects for continued growth depends on maintaining the pristine environment on which tourism has come to rely. However, with more tourists comes increased pressure on the finite natural resources. It is ironic that the tourism industry has become one of the biggest causes of environmental decay and stands to be one of its first victims.
In planning to develop an island economy based on tourism, it is critical to solicit the opinions and concerns of the citizens and all interested parties in order to obtain a complete picture. It is also important to foster support and trust in the government and its actions . Without that dialogue, confusion and resentment on all sides results, and the effectiveness of environmental policies and educational efforts is greatly hampered.
The purpose of this research is to attempt to demonstrate that the Caribbean island of St. Kitts exhibits a closed environmental policy, decision-making process where concerns of its citizens and other interested parties are not considered by the government. To support this theory, the perceptions, opinions, attitudes, and beliefs of the local citizens were solicited concerning several issues: the state of the environment, the development of the tourism industry, and the relationship between the government leaders and the citizens This information was then analyzed and integrated into suggestions for insuring the peaceful cohabitation between the environment and the tourism industry and improving communication among all sections of the island Population.
It is hypothesized that perceptions of the physical, social, and economic impacts of tourism on the island vary among sectors of the population. It is believed that there is a perception from specific user groups that they have been excluded from the environmental policy decision-making process, and that the government operates in the self-interest of the political and economic elite. Lastly, because of the self-serving policies, environmental policies and controls have not been effectively implemented.
Major recommendations which arise from the research include increasing public awareness and environmental education programs. It is also recommended that there be a focus on inviting particular groups into the planning and discussion stage of a project, thereby empowering members of the community to take some responsibility in managing their surroundings. More attention needs to be placed on maintaining environmental integrity and mitigating the deleterious effects of the tourism industry, essentially learning how to achieve sustainable development. Finally, efforts need to be made to involve the young people of the community in all aspects of these recommendations.
Gerdsen, William Rodney, "THE IMPACT OF DECISION MAKING ON TOURISM AND THE ENVIRONMENT IN ST. KITTS" (2000). Open Access Master's Theses. Paper 1779.