With specific reference to the Bahamas ( and to the capital city, Nassau) the discussion focuses on the relationship between to ins and colonialism and on the implications this has for the development of a anti Anal identity. By relying on the images of a colonial past, the tourism industry mere perpetuates the ideology of colonialism and prevents the local people from d beefing a national identity Of their own. INTRODUCTION Tourism, like most other industries, suffers from its share of stereotype images.
These images tucked deep into the recesses of the publics imagination, often have little to do with things as they actually are. (Insight Bahamas Guide 198666) . The theme of this article concerns the impact of colonialism on the anthropometry tourist’s image of Caring mean peoples and countries, particular y the Bahamas. Lea (1988) argues that the majority of tourists emanate from the a fluent, industrialized countries, such as those in North America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific (particularly Australia and Japan) and it is to these that the term contemporary tourist applies.
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The discussion relates to the author’s experience sec of living and working in the Bahamas in the late 1 ass’s and to research undertake en in 1992 on the island of New Providence (the location of the capital city, Nassau) The Ellwood involved a series of taped interviews with local residents, both black and white, from a variety of different backgrounds and professions. The interview enabled Bohemians to comment personally on the influence of British colonial I rule and the impact of mass tourism.
Some of these comments have been unicorn orated into the overall discussion, so that the opinions of local Bohemians can be take en into account. The main argument put forward here concerns the way in which the historical development of the Bahamas, with its legacy of British colonial rule, has affect De the image of the local people presented to the tourists. Mathews (1978:81) assert s that the high visibility of tourism has a subtle but noticeable impact on local values intricately linking the self-identity of Bohemians to that of their tourist visitors: 2 The cultural scenario that Caribbean youth have inherited … S characterized by psychological, cultural and economic dependence, and has spawned a crop of ‘Afro-Saxons’ who still rely on outside sources for defining and legitimating their identity (James-Bryan 1986:150). Consequently, this paper seeks to examine the basis upon which the tourist’s image of the Bahamas is constructed, taking into account the history of the co entry as a former British colony.
Furthermore, it will consider the extent to which t Hess tourist images affect the individual Bandsman’s understanding Of what been “Bohemian” actually means; in other words, how they perceive their national identity. Smith (1991) argues that an individual’s national identity is a complex mix of shared values, memories, myths and traditions that provide the individual wit unique cultural heritage. A sense of national identity allows individuals to “recognize” themselves and others and to understand their place within the contemporary world order (Smith 1 991:17).
However, Clifford (1988) maintain hat perceptions of nationality are neither static nor unchanging and can be modified on the basis of the situations and the people encountered by the in dividend, specifically: Twentieth-century identities no longer presuppose continuous cultures or traditions individuals and groups improvise local performances from 3 (re)collected pasts, drawing on foreign media, symbols and language (1988:14).
It is, therefore, important to consider whether the tourism industry “assists” I this process of modification by “manipulating” the memories, myths and trade actions of the local people so as to attract the tourists to the destination. The role played by intermediaries such as travel agents and advertisers, is considered significant in this discussion, since the Bahamas is initially announce tired through the pictures and language of the travel brochure. It is these brochure sees that promote the artifacts of a colonial past as being representative of the cultural heritage of the Bahamas.
The contemporary tourist visiting the Bahamas is n to merely visiting a country that is different culturally, socially and environments but also one that, in many instances, conjures up images of a colonial past, of country that was once part of a British Empire. Such images often have little t o do with the reality of today’s Bohemian lifestyles; nonetheless they still provide t he basis for the tourist encounter. TOURISM IN THE BAHAMAS The Geography and Economy Located east of Florida, the Bahamas is situated in the North Atlantic Ocean rather than in the Caribbean Sea.
In a sense, this location, on the periphery o 4 mainstream Caribbean existence, has led one commentator to argue that “SST richly speaking the Bahamas is not a Caribbean country…. ” (McCauley 1980132). Averaging 200 miles in width the island chain stretches for 600 miles in a outstretches direction from Florida down towards Haiti. The Bahamas is an archipelago of around 700 islands and “cays”, of which approximately 30 are actually inhabited. It sustains an estimated population of 250,000, 65% of who live on New Providence island (in and around Nassau), which is only 7 miles Eng by 22 miles wide (Collection Bibb: 19).
Those islands “outside” of New Provide once were originally referred to as the Out Islands, although they were renamed the e Family Islands in 1972 prior to Independence. Tourism is firmly entrenched as the leading industry, contributing 70% to the Ross national product (Collection and Dodge 1989:265) and accounting for 2/3 of all employment (Cash, Gordon and Saunders 1991 :311). Banking and offshore investments generate the second largest revenue. Other industries include agriculture (mainly pineapples and bananas), salt production, boat building, f DOD canning and fishing.
Overall, the Bahamas relies heavily on imported consul mere goods and food items from the United States and Europe, to satisfy both the t aorist and the local population; a situation which Collection and Dodge (19891107) h eave referred to as selling “imported goods to imported people”. Furthermore, Se alley (1990:47) maintains that dependence on imported manufactured goods is a direct result of colonialism and is a common occurrence among many former British and European colonies. 5 The development of mass tourism in the Bahamas began in earnest during t he sass’s.
Prior to that tourism had existed on a smaller scale as one of the maim n stays of the economy, along with British investment and employment in the United States. However, it was not until the “jet engine” days Of the 1 ass’s and the sass’s the at tourism began to dominate the economy. Initially, the Bahamas attracted who any Bohemians refer to as wealthy “up-market” tourists. However, over the years, the visitor profile has changed dramatically and mass tourism is now the order r of the day.
As one local Bohemian states: mean years ago when I was growing’ up here on the Island… The caliber of tourist we had here was wonderful and… What they spent compared to what the tourist spends nowadays, it’s very hard to compare the two.. We have cheapened ourselves by allowing a lot of these cheap tourists to come here… Most people can’t even afford the departure tax ’cause they came with no money any. Ay…. L don’t think it helps us as a people or as an economy (personal communication with J.
Solomon in 1992). In 1 990 the Bahamas entertained over 3. 5 million tourists either as stopover visitors or cruise ship passengers, and tourist expenditure exceeded US$ 1. 3 billion (Bahamas Ministry of Tourism 1990). 6 Authors such as Bethel (1989) and Debate (1991) have described Bohemian tourism as “enclave tourism”, as illustrated by the Cable Beach “strip” of hotel s and casinos, with the best example being that of Paradise Island, home to some o f the largest hotels on New Providence.
Tourism so dominates the Bahamas that one is perhaps justified in describing the Bahamas as a monoculture… The massive influx of tourists and the concentration in Nassau… Has put an almost unbearable strain on a very delicate ecosystem, on utilities and essential services, and on a very vulnerable culture…. (Bethel 1989:1 33, 135). Many now believe that the tourism industry is not the economic panacea for the Bahamas’ problems, since the majority of hotels are foreign owned most of the profits are sent out Of the country (Bethel 1989:137).
Furthermore, the growth h of ours has discouraged the development of agriculture (since more money c an be made working in the tourism industry) and encouraged a demographic move meet of people from the Family Islands to Nassau and to Freeport, the Bahamas’ “s second city’ (Collection and Dodge 1989: 107). Saunders (1990) argues that the early years of tourism development in the Bahamas did not help to foster a better understanding between peoples.
Insist dead, it exacerbated racist attitudes as exposure to so many white visitors tended to 7 emphasize the already deeply-entrenched feelings of inferiority amongst the Loren and the black population (Saunders 1 990:102). Furthermore, the very nature of enclave tourism discourages cross-cultural understanding by clearly demarcating the tourist from the local, the hotels from the homes. The host- guest relationship is bound to suffer therefore, since the historically founded rhetoric ICC of the guidebook becomes the means by which the local people can be encounter e red.
As a result, the Bahamas, like other tourism dependent countries, tends to “Pl ay along’ with the brochure images so as to keep the tourists coming back for m ore: Ironically, it is to the temporary… Advantage of the Bahamas not to let too many people know that the Bahamas has become a bona fide nation… Tourist prefer to believe the Bahamas is a paradise, just like it says in the slick vacation n brochures (Collection Bibb: 4-5). The Colonial Experience The colonial experience of the Bahamas and of much of the Caribbean is comparable to that of many formerly colonized countries.
Roosts (1971) argue that the historical beginnings of colonialism are rooted in the competition for power and trade, and for military advantage through the acquisition Of overseas tier Tories and bases. From the Fifteenth Century onwards several European countries, especially the British, French and Dutch competed for colonies in the America s, Asia, 8 Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East, initially for economic gain through trade, then for the power and prestige Of possession. The majority Of former colonic al territories (excluding North America) belong to today’s developing world or The World.
Mimi (1990) argues that by subduing and exploiting the colonized, t colonizers were able to effectively exclude them from the historical, social and chemical transformations that took place in the rest of the world: … The colonized culture, society and tech oenology are seriously damaged… Industrialization and the absence of technical development in the county lead to a slow economic collapse of the colonized (Mimi 19901180, 181). Consequently, the foundations for the development of a tourism mind gusty, baa seed on a tertiary rather than a manufacturing economy, were firmly established.
Furthermore, Britton (1982:347) maintains that the emergence of tourism, as means of achieving economic independence, is inextricably linked to the hoist cal process of colonialism; the legacy of which has firmly returned control of a co entry’s tourism development to just those who once exercised colonial possession. T hose destinations that once relied on their colonial rulers for their economic welfare rely on these same countries to provide both the tourists, and the multinational corporations to supply and manage the tourist facilities.
In the Bahamas, ma NY of these facilities are either owned or operated by companies from the United SST dates of 9 America, such as Carnival, Resorts International and Yamaha Hotels. Similar any of the commodities needed to sustain the tourism industry have to be imported from such outside sources as, the United States, the United Kingdom m and Western Europe, which leads Bethel to argue that, the benefits of tourism co unite to accrue to non-nationals, who continue to own and/ or control the lion’s share of the industry’ (1 989:136).
A more pervasive and perhaps least recognized aspect of colonialism is its impact on the creation of stereotyped ethnic and cultural images, which form the basis of the contemporary tourist’s experience of the Caribbean and of the The World in general. Writers such as Said (1978), Kabuki (1986), Bellman (1990) and Picador (1 991 ) have highlighted the process by which the cultural heritage host community was molded and shaped, so as to reflect the attitudes and o pinions of the colonizers’ themselves.
According to Picador (1991 :2, 3), this transforms Zion was achieved because it resulted from developments ‘ Within” the host society was thus much more difficult to resist. Such a “cultural transformation” not o affected the way the local people related to their national identity, but also SE raved to reduce the stereotyped images that are currently being presented for the consumption of the tourist. Mimi (1990) elaborates these views by highlighting how the values and attitudes of the governing class are adopted in large measure by the govern d class.
All traces of the colony’s past are erased so that the statues, street names, buy Dings and even the education system reflect those of the colonizers’ world. The her taiga 10 of the people that is handed down to the next generation is that of the colonic zero’s, making it very difficult for the local people to develop an independent heritage Of their own. Therefore, it is “….. Not a coincidence that colonized peoples are the e last to awaken to national consciousness” (Mimi 1 990:162).
Colonialism in the Bahamas The Bahamas islands were discovered in 1492 when Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador (which at that time was inhabited by the Lucian people e) on his way to the East Indies. In the following brief period of Spanish colonization n, the entire Lucian population were sold off as slaves. This left the islands isolated virtually uninhabited until 1629 when Great Britain laid formal claim to the Bahamas.
The majority of the early population were the slaves of predominant .NET African descent and it was not until the American War of Independence that significant numbers of settlers came to live in the Bahamas. These settlers, “refugees” from the southern Ignited States, were wealthy white landowners who not only supported slavery, but also preferred to remain “loyal” to the United Kingdom. As a result, they brought not Only wealth to the islands but also slam eves. The racial divisions of those early years laid the foundation for the organization of contemporary Bohemian society.