What is the tourism business really promoting? Kristi Leslie Professor Barry English 112 3 October 2013 Kincaid Essay “A tourist is an ugly human being”(115) Kincaid announces to her readers as she pours her anger out.. “A Small Place” by Jamaica Kincaid slams the tourism in her native country, Antigua . Through her fiery tone and strong evidence, Kincaid provides a substantial argument regarding the negative effects of tourism. Due to a tourists’ ignorance, the lacking development of the county, and from my own personal experiences, I recognize that tourism does have positives, yet they are outweighed by the negatives.
While on vacation, any tourist just wants to relax and forget all the stress and problems in their lives. To see the beauty of the country. Who doesn’t do that? Yet this fantasy of what a vacation should be like in Jamaica causes tourists to be consumed by ignorance. Throughout “A Small Place” Kincaid speaks directly to an imaginary tourist in Jamaica. She draws the scene of the tourist excitedly taking a taxi to their hotel, telling them that ‘You will be surprised, then, to see that most likely the person driving this brand-new car filled with the wrong gas lives in a house that, in comparison, is far beneath he status of the car… (1 12). This statement can also be used to describe Jamaica as a whole. The hotels and tourist destinations are like the brand-new car. Shiny and manicured. Yet the rest of the island equates to the living status of the taxi driver. Worn down and poverty ridden. An island, like Jamaica, with a high rate of tourism, resembles an oyster. Most of the oyster is rough and ugly, yet a very small part of the oyster is pure beauty: the pearl. Sadly, a tourist does not see the reality of what issues are plaguing Jamaica. They are too blinded by the imaginary “ideal vacation. A tourist can say they isited Jamaica, but what have they really seen? The attractive hotels? The pristine beaches? This is the reason behind animosity between the natives and tourists. The tourists get all the luxuries and beauty, while the natives are left to deal with the real issues such as unrepaired libraries or knock off hospitals. Outside of the glorious hotels, a much different picture of Jamaica is painted by Kincaid. Buildings old and worn, poverty engulfing the area, the roads badly in need of repair.
According to Kincaid, the only “nice” buildings on the island are for the government, and the main drug dealer on the island. Where do they get their money from? The tourists. Yet the money made off of tourism is not used in the right places. Kincaid asks the reader ‘Will you be comforted to know that the hospital is staffed with doctors that no actual Antiguan trusts… that when the Minister of Health himself doesnt feel well he takes the first plane to New York to see a real doctor… “(1 13). Unfortunately for Antiguans the money made from tourism is used for things regarding the government, not for the people.
If the government was willing to put money into the people then the country would be more attractive to tourist, xpanding the tourist business. Just this past year, tourism “account[ed] for nearly 60% of GDP and 40% of investment” in Antigua (The World Factbook). With these statistics, only twenty percent of the money made from tourism is supposed to be put back into the people. Not only is it not guaranteed that twenty percent will go into fixing the public issues, but what is twenty percent really going to do?
More importantly, is anyone in the government actually going to make the movements necessary to help the public? From Kincaid’s descriptions in her essay, I do not believe the money even comes close to reaching the public. . From my own experiences I can sympathize and support Kincaids argument. have not toured Jamaica specifically, but have toured the islands within the Carribean. The hotels are always beautiful, with top quality service. The pools are clear and blue, and flower gardens surround the area. The drive from the airport to the hotel always stuck in my mind though.
As you drove farther away from the airport and closer to the hotel, you could see the physical transformation of the island. The buildings would start to become cleaner, the roads better paved. There were more American restaurants such as McDonalds, or Subway. As a tourist, never really reflected on this. When I was around eleven years old, I took my first trip to the Bahamas. As you can imagine at that age, almost jumped off the plane just to get there faster. I wanted to dive into the blue pools, sink my toes into the white sand, feel the sun warm my skin from the inside out.
As soon as my family and exited the airport, we were immediately swarmed with men and women from taxi cabs, hollering for us to take their cab over the other guys. My heart pounded as I was tossed into one of the random cabs, and before even had a chance to buckle my seat beltwe were flying down the road. elt my stomach twist up as I finally relaxed enough to take in my surroundings. Even though the sun was happily engulfing all of the Bahamas in its warmth, the land seemed to not receive it. Houses were slanted, with broken windows, or a straw roof for protection.
Public buildings slouched, as though they were holding a thousand pounds. A few natives walked the sidewalks, either wearing a mis- match of clothing or clothes that went out of style years ago. But I wasn’t too concerned with any of this. was directly seeing my surroundings, but I wasn’t really seeing. The only picture had in my mind was the one from the Marriott website of their glorious hotel. As Kincaid pointed out, all the tourist wants to do is get to their hotel, so their excitement shields them from what they are seeing.
After reading “A Small place”, I felt plagued with guilt. I have been one Of those ignorant tourists. Multiple times. Deep down, I know I knew that the country was mostly poverty ridden. Yet the tourism business makes you forget about all of that, and changes you from yourself. When you are a tourist, you aren’t yourself. The ugly qualities of you come to the surface. The ignorance, the splurging of money, throwing a fit over one minorly wrong etail on your dinner plate while on the outside the natives are just hoping to have a meal that night.