White Marketing

One of the themes observed in the existing literature on tourism in the Caribbean is the marketing towards white social groups. Abbie-Gayle Johnson (2021) uses critical race theory to show how white social groups may have an inherent advantage of freedom while traveling due to technologies that unequally affect certain ethnic groups based on their appearances. (Johnson 2021) This is not the only way white society has an advantage in receiving travel resources, however Sprague-Silgado (2017) and Cocks (2007) both identify subtle ways that vacation marketing targets white societal groups through the use of language and specific advertisements. For example, Cocks (2007) makes note of “luxurious hotels” located on old plantations. With the history of the area and language used to describe the resort amenities, such resorts implicitly try to attract white groups who consume that kind of language. Sprague-Silgado (2017) similarly identifies the cruise market as a wealthy Global North capitalist market that is predominantly made up of white American travelers. It is also easier for white groups to consume based on the current methods used such as mobile and wireless internet access. (Mucunska and Nakavoski: 2022) City branding, and the evaluation of success through the lens of tourism, and identification of a city’s market also allows tourism heavy economies to adjust to their consumer. (Herget, Petrù, and Abhrám 2015) Adding on, Miles (2021) research shows that white tourists in specific areas are the main demographic anyway, and the locals adapt their businesses to cater to their tendencies. Overall, the common theme of white tourists dominating the economic consumer in tourism industries creates marketing tactics that target their main demographic. 

Sex Tourism

Another major theme that is present in the literature on tourism is the appeal of sex tourism through the objectification of both male and females. The perceived exoticism of the island nations of the Caribbean are not the only draw to tourists, the perceived exoticism of the people that live there also bring tourists. The concept of visitors who participate in sex tourism is shown when women racially identify the local men of Puerto Rico as exotically handsome and stay long after their holiday to be with them. (Frohlick 2013) The idea of foreign attractiveness is exemplified by Jamaica’s tourism industry and Air-Jamaica’s all-female staff of flight attendants. Companies label local women as “rare tropical birds,” in order to draw in male consumer groups on the basis of Jamaica’s natural beauty. (Manley 2022)  Racial stereotyping is a big component in sex tourism and the identity of the locals, as perceived by pleasure tourists, along with the preconceived notion that tourists want relations with locals (Donahue 2019: Herold, Garcia and Demoya 2001). Overall, the racialization of the local communities allows for the sexualization that is employed by tourists on their visits to Caribbean destinations, establishing an intersection of race and sexuality that is propelled by racial stereotype. 

Racial Hierarchies and Local Subservience

The final and most common theme among the literature on tourism within the Caribbean is the post colonial social hierarchy, and its implementation into the tourist industry in these areas. Identifying the Caribbean’s colonial past provides very useful insight on how their societies can be structured. For example, the Spanish “exploration” began in the Caribbean islands, where they colonized, and took advantage of the local inhabitants. The white Europeans established structural racism in the Caribbean, such that it is still noticeable today. (Montenegro and Pujol 2022) European rule in the Caribbean includes the enslavement of local inhabitants, has an ongoing impact on the current tourism industry by reaffirming racial servitude to predominantly white patrons. (Sarti 2022) In Jamaica, as Altink (2021) explains, the lighter skinned workers in hotels have more desirable jobs, such as managers, and the darker skinned workers are the cleaners and custodial workers. Alongside these racial hierarchies, gender inequalities carry over into the Caribbean tourism industry. The main idea being that women have a more difficult time thriving in the tourism economy based off of societal limitations (Calvet, Arcos-Pumarola and Encinar-Prat 2022).  

This history of white superiority, dating back to the colonial era, continue to affect the way racial groups act and how they are perceived by visitors as well. The definition of race classified by skin color and national origin, and its implementation into societal institutions, such as the workplace, make it difficult to change the internal working of various Caribbean social groups that experience inequalities. (Mitchell 2022; Rogerson and Rogerson 2020; Hollis 2020) Herrero (2020) helps identify the social interaction within hotels in the tourist industry and the level of service that grants the guests privileges outside of a normal, pedestrian lifestyle. The hierarchy within the service industry that is experienced by existing consumers, mostly privileged and white, establishes the idea of servitude based upon race. In all, the theme of social hierarchy, found both in the local community and the tourism industry is a product of the racialized history found in the Caribbean and showcases the lasting impact that it has in the area.