Misguided policy initiatives in small-island destinations: Why do up-market tourism policies fail?

Dimitri Ioannides, Missouri State University
Briavel Holcomb

Abstract

Following the rhetoric of sustainability, many destinations have adopted policies aimed at attracting high spending visitors while limiting the further growth of mass package tourism. Drawing mainly from the experiences of small-island destinations, we question whether these policies are either environmentally or economically justifiable. Up-market tourists are few in number, prefer varied destinations and require luxury accommodations and facilities that are environmentally taxing and often foreign owned. Mass tourism, while certainly no panacea, has the advantages of larger markets, higher rates of repeat visitation, lower per capita rates of energy and natural resource use, and is often relatively spatially confined. Additionally, given the downturn in all travel following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, destinations are likely to welcome any paying guest.