How Tourism Is Ruining Culture
Start writing a post

How Tourism Is Ruining Culture

Just going to a pretty island and getting tan doesn't make you cultured.

How Tourism Is Ruining Culture

Over the holidays, my mom and I drove to Raleigh, North Carolina from 11pm to 7am. We took a flight to Atlanta and when we landed and sprinted to our connecting flight to Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. We stayed at Beaches, an all-inclusive resort. To give you an idea of what that was like, we were greeted with cold towels and a drink was immediately put into our hands. We spend most of the week being pampered and having all of our needs and wants tended to as fast as possible. We did all this, and never really left the U.S. It was as though someone had carved out a part of Miami, Myrtle Beach, or any other tourist-based town, and plopped it down in the middle of Turks and Caicos.

Halfway through the week, we decided we wanted to explore the island, so we walked about a mile down the road to the small town center, and found a bike shop. We rented bikes and rode all around the island. The first day we went to a conch farm and the next day we visited the national museum. Every place we went, we were told the same things: “We don’t see many people do this,” or “You left the resort to come learn about the culture? We need more people like you.”

The Turks and Caicos Islands are the epitome of a hidden gem. There is so much rich culture here, but no one really knows about it because they are ushered into these resorts and told they don’t need to leave. Additionally, the staff at the resort literally think you’re crazy for leaving. We asked them if there was a spot we could put our bikes, and they looked at us like we invented the bicycle. The mind-set is very much “come to our little piece of America in this island and don’t leave.” But what is the point of going on a vacation to a foreign country if you don’t learn anything about where you are?

This grand display of pure capitalism is partially created by the local government. Turks and Caicos is newly developed. They didn’t get electricity until the 1960s and the hotel industry didn’t begin until the 1980s, and didn’t take off until the 90s. Compare this to regions like North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where the tourism industry started in the 1930s, and it’s blatant that Turks and Caicos has a lot of catching up to do, so that is what the government focuses on. Funding that could be put into helping sustainably farm fish and conch is going into helping build a 12-story Ritz-Carlton, right next door to the seven-story Alexandra Resort. Understandably, the tourism industry and hotels definitely help the economy and create jobs, but is that worth completely sacrificing cultural identity?

The National Museum of Turks and Caicos on Providenciales, the main island, occupies just one room. They have a sister museum on Grand Turk island that is only slightly bigger. Funding is a struggle. For the past few years, they have been working to excavate the remains of Trouvador. It was a slave ship coming from Spain to Cuba illegally after the slave trade was criminalized. The crew was mediocre, and there were far too many people on board, so it crashed off the coast. All of a sudden, all of these slaves were just chilling on the island, so instead of trying to own them, the natives decided to be good humans. They taught the survivors life skills and most people from Middle and North Caicos islands are decedents of these people. That’s a super interesting story I wouldn’t have learned had I just stayed in the hotel…just saying.

Sadly, there’s no funding for a lab to preserve the artifacts found on the ship, so it’s just sitting there under the sea, vulnerable to natural elements as well as vandals.

Both tourism and the preservation of the culture of the islands are heavily dependent on the tourists, who are encouraged not to go outside of their little piece of America. It's so sad to see all of these really cool learning opportunities overlooked because people don’t think to go outside their comfort zones to culture themselves. Please, next time you go on vacation, get out and do something local! Go learn something, because just going to a pretty island and getting a tan doesn’t make you more cultured, it actually does the opposite.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

college students waiting in a long line in the hallway

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less
a man and a woman sitting on the beach in front of the sunset

Whether you met your new love interest online, through mutual friends, or another way entirely, you'll definitely want to know what you're getting into. I mean, really, what's the point in entering a relationship with someone if you don't know whether or not you're compatible on a very basic level?

Consider these 21 questions to ask in the talking stage when getting to know that new guy or girl you just started talking to:

Keep Reading...Show less

Challah vs. Easter Bread: A Delicious Dilemma

Is there really such a difference in Challah bread or Easter Bread?

loaves of challah and easter bread stacked up aside each other, an abundance of food in baskets

Ever since I could remember, it was a treat to receive Easter Bread made by my grandmother. We would only have it once a year and the wait was excruciating. Now that my grandmother has gotten older, she has stopped baking a lot of her recipes that require a lot of hand usage--her traditional Italian baking means no machines. So for the past few years, I have missed enjoying my Easter Bread.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments