Date of Award

12-2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Policy Studies

Advisor

Smith, Robert

Committee Member

Ulbrich , Holley

Committee Member

Norman , William

Committee Member

Harris , Harold

Committee Member

Jordan , Johnny

Abstract

This research examines the prospects for developing an economic diversification policy for The Bahamas, utilizing agritourism. The Bahamas is plagued with the dominance of one traditional sector, tourism combined with the lack of economic innovation and the inability to maintain domestic demand for food security, which has the potential for economic crisis if there are any serious 'external shocks' or setbacks in mainstream tourism. Such a possible drop in tourism is most evident from experiences in 2001 with the Straw Market fire of Sept 4th, and the terrorist attacks in America on September 11th, coupled with the escalating cost of fuel in 2008, and a looming worldwide economic crisis well into the 21st century have caused a dramatic decline in tourism receipts, that could have an equally detrimental long-term impact. (Ministry of Tourism Department of Statistics, 2008)
The need for diversification is not a novel concept for policy makers in The Bahamas, yet agritourism has not been embraced as a viable diversification strategy. This dissertation examines agritourism as a viable policy option for The Bahamas. While agritourism is still a form of tourism, it offers a new venue and different dimension to the already saturated 'sun, sea, and sand market', while stimulating interest into another sector of the economy, the agriculture sector. Linking the strongest performing sector of the country (tourism) to another (agriculture) has the ability to revitalize and inject resources for both sectors.
'The Bahamas most important resources are their climate, beaches and proximity to the United States' (O' Reilly Qtd Wilkson 1997). With these assets in hand, The Bahamas has become one of the world's premiere tourist destinations and with that has come a total dependence on tourist foreign exchange receipts, which account for 50-60% of gross domestic product. (Ministry of Tourism Department of Statistics, 2008) While the predominance of tourism has assisted this country in maintaining a higher standard of living, the focus on one single revenue stream has positioned the country as a unitary economic state. This constant reliance on one industry has made the country vulnerable to international instability in other countries. From a macro-economic perspective, tourism has been a huge success, generating the majority of the countries' foreign revenue earnings. However, Timms (2006) has a different outlook, he states that while tourism historically has 'been touted as providing benefits, such as the accumulation of foreign exchange earnings, employment, and backward linkages for domestic and regional diversification to the peripheral destination. The structure or organization of Third World tourism reinforces core- periphery dependency on, and vulnerability to, developed countries due to the commercial power held by foreign enterprises.' (8)
Tourism however, is a fickle and fluid business; several authors have expressed the fact that countries whose main focus is on tourism are placing themselves at a disadvantage. Torres (2004) explains, 'A single focus on tourism, at the expense of local agriculture, can lead to patterns of dependent, uneven and spatially polarized development that result in great disparities in wealth between tourist space and rural agricultural space. In the absence of well-developed linkages between the external sectors and the rest of the economy, a limited and polarized form of development takes place that cannot act as a stimulus for broadly based development' (299). While The Bahamas does have the ability to capitalize on the retention of foreign reserves through developing linkages, these linkages must have a positive effect on agriculture in the country. This research will examine tourism and agriculture in The Bahamas to determine the potential for complementing each other while minimizing conflict over land and labor.
The World Bank 1980 reported, ' The principal development challenges facing The Bahamas are to maintain growth in tourism, to broaden the country's economic base through the expansion of agricultural and industrial activities, with linkages to the tourism sector and to accelerate development of the family islands ' (Qtd Wilkson, 1997, p.ii). Agriculture has long faded into the background in the country with approximately 5-6 percent of the total land area suitable for agriculture being utilized (Eneas, 1998; O'Reilly, Land Resource Survey). Land is now viewed as more valuable as real estate than agriculture production.

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