Fiscal Dichotomy in the Caribbean

Can someone please explain, how, that as the cruise ships get bigger, and therefore carry more passengers, the islands in the Caribbean still seem to suffer the same poverty as they did 20 years ago ?    I know tourists are spending $$$$$.   Port charges are paid by every ship on a per pax basis.  But some of these places look like the south Bronx of the 70s.   Where does our money go ?

10 Answers

Why would they waste money on infrastructure. I was talking with our tour guide while in Costa Maya and they were saying that one year they had a massive hurricane that wiped out the cruise port and the villages. They spent all the money on the cruise port so they can continue receiving passengers but yet, years later, the village looks like a bomb went off! Guess it is all about priorities

I'm guessing that corporate greed plays a big part in the process. Tourism brings in a great deal of cash, but does not always get to the right hands in the civil or area administrations. But you can bet that someone is getting rich, and it's probably not the vendor......

I'll agree with John on this one. All the money goes to the pockets of a few. If they do open more stores, bars and restaurants the jobs will only be min wage. I'm sure a few people own most of the shops and excursion companies.

I'm no financial expert when it comes to tourism dollars, but we should keep in mind that while we may be focused on the micro aspect (the immediate area around the port) there is a macro aspect, that means a big chunk of the dollars spent at the port benefit the entire country in some aspect. It was interesting to be on the other side when a cruise ship comes to port. I had to fly to Jamaica because I missed my embarkation (you can read all about on another post) While waiting to get on the ship, I saw quite a bit of activity from security personnel, shop keepers, excursion staff....all congregating at the Ocho Rios port to receive the influx of cruise ship passengers. Repeated daily, it was pretty clear to me that many jobs depend on the cruise lines. While the poverty is there, I can only imagine how much worse it would be without tourism dollars. It's kind of a similar deal with Indian Casino gaming in the US. Millions upon millions of dollars get funneled to the "tribes" yet Native American Indians as a whole remain the most poverty stricken group in the USA.

Yes, I'm tired of seeing it all myself as well. Like a goodly portion of the oil wealth in the mid east or in the African oil rich nations. Poverty everywhere, but the politicians and the affluent gain in stature and live longer while those below that level their average life expectancy becomes less and less. Look at the yachts anchored on the north side of the Mediterranean, we all know full well from looking at just that, the resources of Africa are not distributed fairly.

As for the Caribbean countries, to me it has always been sad, the great cruise ship haunts are surrounded by the struggling poor while most shops are owned by entrepreneurs from New York and Miami. Maybe we not visit the Caribbean any more, as I say, I'm tired of seeing all that. Inequality is taking over.

Corporate greed and corrupt officials are responsible for a lot of the revenue consumption in many of the "Banana Republics". Unfortunately the main industry in many of these islands is tourism but the number of people that are actually employed in the tourism industry is very low and compare that to the number of people unemployed and the low wages paid to those lucky enough to work and it is not hard to see why the countries are so poor. Add in corrupt official skimming their portion off of any revenue and a high and increasing crime tare due to a lack of work and it is not hard to see why regardless of how many more ships or people come to the island there is no improvement. In many cases it is going downhill. It is sad to see.

The sad thing is, yes the locals set up their little shops, and such to make the few bucks from each ship that comes to port, but what kind of outrageous rent is being charged to each vendor to be in there. Not to mention what kind of selection criteria is there to even allow the vendors to set up shop there. Is it a "who do you know" system?

A lot of the money spent in cruise ports, especially those that were built by the cruise industry, goes right back to the {gasp} cruise lines that built those ports. Anyone who does not venture out of a cookie cutter cruise line built port area like Amber Cove, Mahogany Bay, Costa Maya, etc. contributes to keeping their cruise dollars from getting to the local populations.

Good day, This being Sunday, I have just finished a regular call with a friend from Panama, He is an Expat Canadian who retired to Panama a few years ago and works as an agent in Panama for a couple of cruise lines, Usually for those looking for property. Anyway, in light of the recent Panama Papers leaks, we spoke of his investments and such, and our conversation moved to the tour we took in Panama when we cruise and where we met. The locations where we toured directly benefited from the cruise line tours. The garden we went to and the butterfly conservatory exist because some local spoke to the cruise lines and got the venue added to the excursions. One location where we went for refreshments was once the house of a notorious drug lord, Now a privately owned bed and breakfast and a great coffee stop.

I would rather visit some of those than take some risks that exist in some areas, I only want my tourist dollars on shore to stay on shore. I'm sure that most of us agree.

Corruption and politics are likely at the root of many (not all) instances where money is not filtering through to the general populace for infrastructure and social improvements. We look at this issue from the perspective of being a first world country... many of the islands teeter between second and third world status. Many of governments do not operate efficiently or effectively due to factors including but not limited village tribalism, superstition, and apathy.

Though not cruise related, consider the millions and millions of dollars that were given to relief efforts in Haiti. The opportunity this presented to the country is mind-boggling but did it go to rebuilding and improvements? Perhaps some but it does present as if a fantastic opportunity to turn the country around was lost to a combination of bureaucracy, greed, and corruption.

Sorry this sounds so bleak, but it is my opinion.


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