Are the Interests of Cultural Resource Management and Tourism Always Reconcilable- What of Jamaica?

Thelma White
The Tourist industry is now a global one with millions of people traversing the world annually. There has been phenomenal growth in international tourism since the 1980s with tourism accounting for a larger proportion of the value of world exports than all sectors other than oil and motor vehicles (WTO 1994 p. 1). The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO 2014) recorded international tourist arrivals that showed growth of 5 per cent in 2013 to reach 1087 million arrivals, and that international tourism generated a record US$ 1,159 billion in earnings. UNWTO even forecasts a growth of approximately 3.3 per cent annually up to the year 2030 (UNWTO 2014). People have increasingly becoming more interested in the culture and heritage of the countries they are visiting; people’s way of life – how they conduct their daily lives; about their ancestry and their heritage - they want to experience beyond the usual structured leisure package. Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Africa are high on the list of the most visited tourist destinations in 2013, with Asia outpacing the others. In all, tourism travel is forecast to reach a record total of 1.4 billion tourists by 2020 and 1.8 billion by 2030 (UNWTO 2014). Such heavy trafficking of persons would definitely impact not only the infrastructure, but the whole way of life of receiving countries.

Mason (2008) describes tourism as ‘multidimensional industry which can be compartmentalized’ and which can be grouped into the ‘categories of international tourism; internal tourism; domestic tourism; and national tourism’ (7). Tourism can also be divided into eco-tourism, heritage tourism, underwater tourism. There are several “push and pull” factors which Mason (2008) identified as motivation for tourists to travel; - pleasure (leisure, culture, active sports, visiting friends and relatives); professional (meetings, missions, business, etc.); other purposes (study, health, transit). There are five major reasons have been determined for the growth of tourism;- a)the rise in industrial output leading to increase standard of living; b) improvements in transport technology leading to cheaper more affordable travel; c) introduction of annual holidays at the end of the nineteenth century; d)changing perceptions of the environment - locations once viewed as hostile, now seen as attractive; e) an increasing desire to travel (Mason 2008 p. 16). Whatever the reason, the movement of so many persons has left an impact on the cultural resources of host countries. Given the intricate nature of tourism an apt description would be:

“The study of man away from his usual habitat; of the industry which responds to his needs and the impacts that both he and the industry have for the host socio-cultural, economic, and physical environments” (Mason 2008, 6).

This discourse seeks to assess whether cultural resource management and tourism are reconcilable. The essay will assess the impact of the tourist industry (both negative and positive); the impact of tourism on cultural resources of host countries, and; whether or not tourism activities are always compatible with cultural resource management. Most of the argument will surround those of the developing countries, with a Caribbean bias, as they are some of the main recipients of tourists seeking cultural experience behind Asia. Caribbean includes all the countries touched by the Caribbean Sea including countries like Mexico. Cultural resources here would be defined as :

The” collective evidence of the past activities and accomplishments of people. Buildings, objects, features, locations, and structures with scientific, historic, and cultural value are all examples of cultural resources. Cultural resources are finite and non-renewable resources that once destroyed cannot be returned to their original state” (CRSP 2012). The definition was expanded to include both tangible heritage resources and intangible (voice, music, dance, folklore, etc.) - in other words, the activities resulting from man’s whole way of life.