To Hell With Paradise

To Hell With Paradise: A History Of The Jamaican Tourist Industry

Frank Fonda Taylor
Copyright Date: 1993
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    To Hell With Paradise
    Book Description:

    In the course of the nineteenth century, Jamaica transformed itself from a pestilence-ridden "white man's graveyard" to a sun-drenched tourist paradise. Deftly combining economics with political and cultural history, Frank Fonda Taylor examines this puzzling about-face and explores the growth of the tourist industry into the 1990s. He argues that the transformations in image and reality were not accidental or due simply to nature's bounty. They were the result of a conscious decision to develop this aspect of Jamaica's economy.

    Jamaican tourism emerged formally at an international exhibition held on the island in 1891. The international tourist industry, based on the need to take a break from stressful labor and recuperate in healthful and luxurious surroundings, was a newly awakened economic giant. A group of Jamaican entrepreneurs saw its potential and began to cultivate a tourism psychology which has led, more than one hundred years later, to an economy dependent upon the tourist industry.

    The steamships that carried North American tourists to Jamaican resorts also carried U.S. prejudices against people of color."To Hell withParadise"illustrates the problems of founding a tourist industry for a European or U.S. clientele in a society where the mass of the population is poor, black, and with a historical experience of slavery and colonialism. By the 1990s, tourism had become the lifeblood of the Jamaican economy, but at an enormous cost: enclaves of privilege and ostentation that exclude the bulk of the local population, drug trafficking and prostitution, soaring prices, and environmental degradation. No wonder some Jamaicans regard tourism as a new kind of sugar.

    Taylor explores timely issues that have not been previously addressed. Along the way, he offers a series of valuable micro histories of the Jamaican planter class, the origins of agricultural dependency (on bananas), the growth of shipping and communications links, the process of race relations, and the linking of infrastructural development to tourism. The text is illustrated with period photographs of steamships and Jamaican tourist hotels.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7247-1
    Subjects: History, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Part One: The Foundation Period
    • Chapter 2 The Deliverance from Hellshire
      (pp. 13-36)

      In the southwestern corner of the parish of St. Catherine in Jamaica stands a range of hills once called the Hellshire Hills because of their proximity to extensive malarial swamps. By the close of the nineteenth century, however,their proximity to extensive malarial swamps. By the close of the nineteenth century, however, these hills had acquired the new name of Healthshire Hills—a change symbolic of the radical alteration that had transpired in informed thinking about the climate of the island and its natural environment in general.¹ Whereas Jamaica’s erstwhile reputation had been as a graveyard for white folks, by 1900...

    • Chapter 3 God’s Agents in Paradise
      (pp. 37-54)

      Given the local traditions of easy hospitality, the Jamaican tourist industry, when it emerged in the late nineteenth century, encountered a warm reception among local men of capital, who welcomed wealthy white transients from abroad by making the colony much a home away from home as possible. These local entrepreneurs, however, were not the parents of the infant enterprise. Tourism was sired by American banana traders, who had the island a major base of operations. It was on the banana that the first vacationers from North America were brought Jamaica. Near the end of the nineteenth century the Fruit Company...

    • Chapter 4 Jamaica Awakens
      (pp. 55-67)

      Although since 1850 there had been isolated individual initiatives to promote Jamaica as a holiday resort, in 1890 Jamaica was still terra incognita the traveling public of Europe and the United States. It was not until then that the first concerted campaign was initiated to establish the tourist industry on the island. 1870, for example, many of the parishioners of Kingston, intent on increasing the volume of trade between Jamaica and the North American mainland, submitted a petition to the governor requesting that a subsidy be granted to shippers for the purpose of establishing regular steamship communications with New York.¹...

    • Chapter 5 “Ho-tel Me Not”
      (pp. 68-93)

      Prior to 1891, when Jamaica hosted the International Exhibition, there was no such thing as a hotel industry in that colony. The flow of visitors to was meager, and the accommodations were, large, squalid, consisting primarily of taverns in the towns inns in the rural areas.¹ Taverns were public houses where could secure food, drink, and shelter. Travelers in the took refuge in inns, which offered a lower level of than taverns. The reason for this difference in was that few people spent more than one night at any of inns, located at more or less convenient spots along the...

    • Chapter 6 The Ratooning of the plantation
      (pp. 94-112)

      To identify full socialcultural connotation the evolving tourist traffic to Jamaica, one must turn to the past, to a time well before the gestation of the holiday industry in the island 1891. Though the physical climate of Jamaica had customarily been vilified with regard to health matters, its social climate the generous hospitality of its gentry had won much applause one of the colony’s most pleasing traits. The hospitality of planter class was proverbial. “Few individuals have resided a short time in this country, without having experienced truth of this observation which has been made, or assented all writers on...

    • Chapter 7 Paradise on the Auction Block
      (pp. 113-134)

      Not withstanding the expectation that the Jamaica International Exhibition of 1891 would propel the takeoff of tourism in the island, one of the biggest obstacles to growth in the number of to Jamaica was still, at the turn of the twentieth the dearth of information abroad concerning the colony Once the exhibition had come and gone, the ad hoc committee formed to promote Jamaica overseas disbanded, and no was left to sustain the publicity it had generated extract the maximum advantages from the tourism possibilities it had opened up.¹ There was no specific organization to Jamaica before the gaze of...

  5. Part Two: The Aftermath
    • Chapter 8 Resurrection and Revival
      (pp. 137-155)

      If the generation before World War I saw the Jamaican tourist industry in its infancy, that after 1919 watched it attain its adolescence. But in the beginning, after peace came in 1919, visitor arrivals were well below the numbers of the prewar period.¹ In a sense this reduction in tourist traffic was only a reflection of the radical rupture in the island’s communication links during the war. Up to 1914, there had been two steamship companies transporting English trippers to and from the island in well-equipped steamers. By 1919, however, steamers from the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company were no...

    • Chapter 9 The Second Coming
      (pp. 156-178)

      Before the outbreak of the Second World War, insofar as Jamaica had been a favorite holiday retreat for westerners, it had been so for the wealthy almost exclusively. It was not until December 1930, when Pan American World Airways first linked Jamaica with the outside world via its Clipper service, that Jamaica began to emerge as a leading destination for the average middle-income vacationer. According to theDaily Gleaner,mass tourism in the island commenced with the appearance of Pan Am.¹ The airline did not just invest in the creation of links between the island and the mainland, but through...

    • Chapter 10 Conclusion
      (pp. 179-188)

      Better Must Come. It’s Time For a Change. With such slogans as these the People’s National Party (PNP) of Michael Manley won the February 1972 national elections in Jamaica by a landslide. Given tourism’s past, it is remarkable that the development plans of the Manley regime envisioned this change for the better as comprising not less but more tourism. With the gravity of the island’s balance of payments predicament, and with its acutely high level of unemployment, the Manley government felt that it had little real economic option other than to accept tourism and to urge that the nation as...

  6. Appendix 1
    (pp. 191-194)
  7. Appendix 2
    (pp. 195-198)
  8. Notes
    (pp. 199-222)
  9. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 223-232)
  10. Index
    (pp. 233-239)