The View from Europe
David Jessop, Dominican Today senior Op-Ed contributor
The Caribbean has the potential to do much more to develop its identity, spur growth, soft power and competitiveness, if its citizens reimagine the future of its countries and cities.
This is in part the message contained in the fascinating recently published book Brand Jamaica: Reimagining a National Image and Identity edited by Hume Johnson and Kamille Gentles-Peart which follows from a symposium held at the University of the West Indies in late 2017 Reimagine Jamaica: unlimited possibilities.
The book, suggests that there is a need to interrogate, deconstruct and reimagine the ways that the countrys national image has been created.
Its editors and contributors suggest that up to now Jamaicas image and brand has been created by a top-down elite and an approach that is grounded in destination tourism. Citizens role in the making of the national image and identity they argue, has at best been limited and is in danger of being supplanted by what tourism would have us believe.
This is an idea thats time is now. It accords with the view of an increasing number of younger undergraduates and graduates in the region who are worried about tourism and its impact, not just on the environment but on the Caribbeans identity.
They suggest that it is time to reclaim the Caribbeans image and that tourism should not be allowed to define the way the region is seen. Tourism, as one recent correspondent pointed out, is a colonial construct and needs to be re-developed and reimagined as Caribbean, rather than imposed. Or as another put it, the time has come to reclaim the Caribbeans image through its achievements and not allow tourism to define the way the region is seen.
These are ideas that suggest an embryonic movement which allied to environmental concerns could easily form a basis for a new Caribbean-centric populism.
Brand Jamaica goes some way towards addressing such concerns.
Although a significant part of its focus is the importance of new approaches to country branding, it also contains essays that address the relationship between nation branding and the messaging of the tourism industry, the need to hold on to national intellectual property and culture, and the importance of reimagining the role of cities.
In this latter respect it notes the way in which Kingston has begun to regenerate itself, has become a place of business, the arts, and creativity and has begun to show the potential that cities create through proximity, citing the development of new millennial-led tech-related and culture based enterprises.
It observes that this gradual renaissance has occurred though improved urban management and governments recognition that investment in urban infrastructure can bring prosperity back to a city that has seen decades of deterioration.
However, it also points out that a reimagined Kingston as a creative global new age city of the future cannot and should not happen without the full participation of Jamaicas citizens and that the planning process should assume a bottom up collaborative approach.
For Kingston to truly reinvent itself, its editors argue, it must utilise the opportunities, skills, resources and capabilities that lie within it and in its core values. This they suggest requires government to have a development philosophy that goes beyond tourism.
It is an argument that goes to the heart of what should drive the development of every city in a tourism dependent Caribbean economy, in which citizens feel marginalised by an industry that brings jobs and growth but at the cost of cultural dilution or the hijacking of streets and beaches by non-residents.
This is a problem that is global. Around the world over-tourism threatens to damage the environment, overload infrastructure, push out local communities as house prices rise beyond what citizens can afford, and Disneyfication displaces culture and historic locations.
To be fair, government and opposition in Jamaica see Kingstons renovation and more generally tourisms role in achieving this, as a way in which benefit can be brought to wider groups of residents in disadvantaged communities.
Kingston is experiencing multiple developments in a number of midtown, downtown and other locations. It involves the gradual redevelopment of Kingstons waterfront with government, private sector and Chinese support; the relocation of the headquarters buildings of some of the countrys leading commercial enterprises; and the creation of a range of new facilities, including a cruise ship pier, condominiums, museums and visitor attractions. In parallel, government is to gradually relocate ministries and government departments to the midtown and waterfront areas.
There are also plans to turn the city into a destination for tourism.
The idea is to attract regional travellers, the Diaspora, and millennials from overseas, wanting to participate in join the citys music and party scene, its cultural and sporting events and cuisine.
This is welcome in a city which for decades has been perceived as run down, in parts verging on lawless and which had an image that had negatively branded the country.
The significance of the book Brand Jamaica however is that it starts to address issues less talked about, relating to the broader social and cultural impact of tourism; the economic and political contradictions between urban development and the requirements of residents; the role of cities in in changing a nations brand; and more importantly, albeit indirectly, who should drive the perceptions that drive tourism?
Put another way it raises the question, who owns tourism: is it the people of a country, Governments desire for economic growth, the investor, or those who brand and make the images that sell the product?
Brand Jamaicas editors argue for a holistic approach. They suggest that by igniting a sense of community, participation and a new sense of ownership, it is possible to create a new national identity and a sense of collaboration and connectedness that can change citizens thinking about the future.
This is a message with worth considering by all involved in the tourism industry.
David Jessop is a consultant to the Caribbean Council and can be contacted at
Previous columns can be found at https://www.caribbean-council.org/research-analysis/
January 24th, 2020
- 5 Caribbean Islands Where You Can Go Beyond the Beach - The New York Times - March 5th, 2020
- Caribbean tourism threatened by the region's first cases of COVID-19 - Global Voices - March 5th, 2020
- Is This The Next Big Vacation Spot In The Caribbean? - Forbes - March 5th, 2020
- Cruises and the Coronavirus: What Passengers Need to Know - The New York Times - March 5th, 2020
- Why Shares of Royal Caribbean Were Down in February - Motley Fool - March 5th, 2020
- When is Wild Cuba: A Caribbean Journey on TV? - BBC Discover Wildlife - March 5th, 2020
- Cook Like the Chefs on Taste the Islands with New Caribbean Cookbook - Island Origins - March 5th, 2020
- Flycana: Dominican start-up LCC working to be viable in the Caribbean - CAPA - Centre for Aviation - March 5th, 2020
- Caribbean-style roti shop, On the Double, coming this spring to Union Market. - PoPville - March 5th, 2020
- "The new authentic Caribbean street food eatery and Rhum bar will serve many of the menu items from its acclaimed sister restaurant, Cane Rhum... - March 5th, 2020
- Pirates Of The Caribbean 5: Why Keith Richards Was Replaced By Paul McCartney - Screen Rant - March 5th, 2020
- Royal Caribbean Is Starting To Look Attractive - Seeking Alpha - March 5th, 2020
- Johnny Depp Never Actually Lost His Pirates Of The Caribbean Role - ScreenGeek - March 5th, 2020
- From the Newsroom: Cruising along in the Caribbean - The Columbian - February 29th, 2020
- The Invention of the "Healthy" Caribbean - JSTOR Daily - February 29th, 2020
- The 4 best Caribbean spots in Baltimore - Hoodline - February 29th, 2020
- Import Substitution: Local Fruits And Veggies Can Feed Caribbean Economies - Forbes - February 29th, 2020
- Kamau Brathwaite and the Voice of the Caribbean - The New York Review of Books - February 29th, 2020
- St Maarten Is the Caribbean's Fastest-Growing Destination Right Now - Caribbean Journal - February 29th, 2020
- Faces & Places: Jews of the Caribbean Detroit Jewish News - The Jewish News - February 29th, 2020
- What in the world are those things washing up on Floridas beaches? - TCPalm - February 29th, 2020
- I spent a day on the most beautiful island in the Caribbean and never left my room. It was incredible. - Business Insider - February 29th, 2020
- Cooks from parts of Africa, the US, and the Caribbean share their heritage recipes - The Philadelphia Inquirer - February 29th, 2020
- Silver Airways applies to fly larger aircraft to Caribbean - Flightglobal - February 29th, 2020
- Dominican Republic: first in the Caribbean to use technology for maps of coastal marine habitats - Dominican Today - February 29th, 2020
- Top airports for private aviation in the Caribbean* - Travel Daily News International - February 29th, 2020
- Pirates Of The Caribbean: 10 Things Everyone Missed About Davy Jones - Screen Rant - February 29th, 2020
- More Work Needs to be Done to Develop Caribbean Sports Talent - caribbeannationalweekly.com - February 29th, 2020
- Why Shares of Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Delta, and Southwest Plummeted Today - Motley Fool - February 29th, 2020
- Why Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Hertz Global Stocks All Dropped Today - Motley Fool - February 29th, 2020
- Grandfather of child who died on Royal Caribbean ship pleading guilty - Business Insider - Business Insider - February 29th, 2020
- Disney Reportedly Considering Bringing Johnny Depp Back For Pirates Of The Caribbean Reboot - We Got This Covered - February 29th, 2020
- Grandfather of 1-year-old who fell to her death from Royal Caribbean cruise ship to plead guilty - USA TODAY - February 29th, 2020
- Petition To Bring Johnny Depp Back To Pirates Of The Caribbean Almost At Its Goal - We Got This Covered - February 29th, 2020
- Caribbean & Mexico Vacation Packages - All Inclusive Resorts ... - January 27th, 2020
- From Pakistan to the Caribbean: Curry's journey around the world - CNN - January 27th, 2020
- Cat sails the waters of the Caribbean since she was a kitten - Metro.co.uk - January 27th, 2020
- Women Who Made Their Mark on Caribbean Music to Headline Best of The Best Music Fest - South Florida Caribbean News - January 27th, 2020
- 15 Luxurious All-Inclusive Resorts In The Caribbean (That Are Cheaper Than You Thought) - TheTravel - January 27th, 2020
- Buy Royal Caribbean Even Though Coronavirus Fears Are Slamming the Stock, Scott Black Says - Barron's - January 27th, 2020
- Family of toddler who fell to her death off a cruise ship says Royal Caribbean provided a 'false narrative' - Wink News - January 27th, 2020
- Harry Potter Star Reportedly Eyed To Lead Pirates Of The Caribbean Reboot - We Got This Covered - January 27th, 2020
- Sally's: The Team Behind Sally Roots Brings Asian-Influenced Caribbean Food to Bed-Stuy - BKLYNER - January 27th, 2020
- Zac Efron Rumored To Play Jack Sparrow In "Pirates of the Caribbean" Reboot - Inside the Magic - January 27th, 2020
- 15 Under-The-Radar Caribbean Destinations Better Than Turks And Caicos - TheTravel - January 27th, 2020
- PAHO Director urges Caribbean to Prepare for Early Detection of Coronavirus - caribbeannationalweekly.com - January 27th, 2020
- Religious keep momentum of Amazon synod alive in wider Latin American, Caribbean region - Global Sisters Report - January 20th, 2020
- Royal Caribbean: Grandfather 'reckless' in toddler death: report - Fox Business - January 20th, 2020
- Mottley warns of attempts to divide the Caribbean - Jamaica Gleaner - January 20th, 2020
- Mix up financing to better protect Caribbean, say experts - World - ReliefWeb - January 20th, 2020
- Pirates of the Caribbean: 10 Best Jack Sparrow Quotes - Screen Rant - January 20th, 2020
- St. Thomas named one of Caribbean's best fishing destinations - Virgin Islands Daily News - January 20th, 2020
- 10 unexpected foods to eat on the Caribbean island of Curacao - USA Today 10Best - January 18th, 2020
- Dominica Is the Fastest Growing Economy in Latin America and the Caribbean Region Thanks to Booming Tourism and Citizenship by Investment, UN ECLAC... - January 18th, 2020
- A busy year in the Caribbean: Elections - Global Americans - January 18th, 2020
- I spent a day on Richard Branson's private island in the Caribbean. It was as spectacular as you can imagine. - Business Insider - January 18th, 2020
- From Vision to Action: Latin American and Caribbean Cities Ready for a Paradigm Shift in Road Safety - TheCityFix - January 18th, 2020
- PHOTOS: Disney Reveals Sneak Peek at February's Pirates of the Caribbean Minnie Mouse: The Main Attraction Line - wdwnt.com - January 18th, 2020
- Caribbean Map / Map of the Caribbean - Maps and ... - January 15th, 2020
- New Thoughts on the Colonization of the Caribbean - Archaeology - January 15th, 2020
- Stony coral tissue loss disease is sweeping through Caribbean reefs. Can these students find the answers? - News@Northeastern - January 15th, 2020
- Study puts the 'Carib' in 'Caribbean,' boosting credibility of Columbus' cannibal claims - University of Florida - January 15th, 2020
- The Rhythm Lounge & Grill is offering live music and Caribbean-inspired food at Marketplace Maill - Winston-Salem Journal - January 15th, 2020
- Church Shares Caribbean Culture to Build Local Connections - WGLT News - January 15th, 2020
- The face of reparations - Caribbean Life - January 15th, 2020
- Warming Climate Causes Dengue Fever Outbreak in Caribbean Leading to Almost 1400 Deaths in the Last Year - One Green Planet - January 15th, 2020
- Curtain Bluff, an All-Inclusive Caribbean Classic, Is Better Than Ever - Caribbean Journal - January 15th, 2020
- Leonardo DiCaprio saves man who fell overboard in the Caribbean - Consequence of Sound - January 15th, 2020
- Leonardo DiCaprio helps save man who fell overboard in the Caribbean - CBS News - January 15th, 2020
- Hilton Is Opening a New Caribbean Resort in St Kitts - Caribbean Journal - January 15th, 2020
- Win trip to the Caribbean by getting fit at F45 Training Tysons - Patch.com - January 15th, 2020
- Reflecting on 2019 and Caribbean finance | Business - Jamaica Gleaner - January 15th, 2020
- Latin American and Caribbean economies to grow 1.8 percent in 2020 - Global Americans - January 15th, 2020
- Can Bees Add a Fresh Buzz to the Caribbean's $56 Billion Tourism Market? - OZY - December 13th, 2019
- Revealed: how the Caribbean became a haven for Jews fleeing Nazi tyranny - The Guardian - December 13th, 2019
- Curtain Bluff, Antigua: laid-back luxury in the Caribbean - The Week UK - December 13th, 2019
- Spices of the Winter Gala celebrates Caribbean culture - The Ticker - December 13th, 2019
- When the Caribbean Islands became home to hundreds of thousands of Jews escaping persecution - Face2Face Africa - December 13th, 2019
- Bella Hadid went braless under a sheer halter top during her trip to the Caribbean - Business Insider - December 13th, 2019
- At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a Look at the Ancient Caribbean - Caribbean Journal - December 13th, 2019