According to The World Tourism Organization (WTO), tourism can be defined as an activity where persons travel or stay in a destination other than their respective environment, for either business, leisure or other purposes, with the duration not exceeding one consecutive year. It is difficult to pinpoint the genesis of tourism, given that it entails the travelling of people, whereby they have been many theories to determine the origins, so this has proven to be difficult, given that tourism entails the movement of people.

Such is the importance of tourism to most economies, given that it provides growth for many economies, where according to (Ashley et al 2007) policymakers and development experts such as organizations like the United Nations have established various divisions like United Nations Commission on Trade & Development, which promotes the importance of tourism to least developed countries, the United Nations Environment Programmed is dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism and the United Nations World Tourism Organization is solely exclusively to the devotion towards tourism.

The tourism industry especially in the Caribbean, is normally a leading indicator for foreign exchange for their respective economies, where it can be considered to be significant economic driver, given that it normally fuels other industries, such as entertainment, food and beverage, hotels, transportation, travel services, a variety of leisure and entertainment services and other areas in the informal sector.

However, despite tourism been able to provide an economy with additional income, planning and development are considered to be vital, where if not conducted properly, it can have negative impacts on a country’s growth and diminish it’s value of natural resources. As stated by WTO (2004) “in this context, the design and content of tourism education systems is subject to strong pressures from the environment around it, since the human factor has become one of the key elements in achieving competitiveness in tourism enterprises and destinations” (p. 4). The dynamic nature of the tourism industry demands professional competencies. Nonetheless,  it must be noted that the tourism industry has often been used as a vehicle for regional development as a result of the industry requiring the development of physical, economic, and socio-cultural infrastructure, where it is recognized as one of the largest industries in the world and also one of the fastest growing economic sectors.

Purpose of the Research

The purpose of the study will seek to investigate the direct and indirect impact that Tourism had placed on Barbados from an economical, cultural and environmental position and also bridging the gap in previous literature with respect to assessing what methods are currently undertaken to ensure Tourism’s sustainability and whether the Barbados Government is fully exploiting the full potential that tourism has to offer the country.

As noted by Mather and Todd (1993), “there is probably no other regions in the world in which tourism as a source of income, employment, hard currency earnings and economic growth, has greater importance than in the Caribbean.” Since the ending of the sugar cane era in Barbados, which at one stage was the country’s primary source of foreign income and which lasted from the introduction of sugar farming by the Dutch in the 17th century to its demise in the mid 1970’s, Tourism has become the prominent foreign income earner for the country.

This research paper comprises four main sections. The first will outline the transition of the different industries that are now the forefront of the country’s foreign income earners. The second will review the impact that tourism has had on Barbados and its performance over the period 1960-2014, taking into account four keys areas i.e. social, economical, cultural and environmental. The third section will evaluate the sustainability of tourism and what plans are established to ensure its continuity and the final section of the paper will examine what measures the Barbados Government can employ to fully maximize the returns from Tourism, which will be the line of thought for this paper. 

Rationale for Study

The rationale of the study is motivated by the need to understand the importance of the impact that tourism has towards the Barbados economy and what measures can be developed and implemented by the Barbados Government, to ensure that Tourism is effectively being utilized and operating to its full potential. Several theories and works have sought to address the importance of tourism to the local economy such as Greenidge’s  1998 “Forecasting Tourism Demand in Barbados 1998” or Worrell’s 1987 “Tourism in the Caribbean.”  The writer is also seeking to examine the financial health of the tourism industry, which is interlinked with the European, Canadian and the United States of America financial markets, given that these three territories contribute to the majority of the country’s short and long term arrivals.

This study will also seek to examine the current challenges that tourism faces, such as pollution, politics, external economies in the major markets mentioned above, hospitality and the local infrastructure.  To this extent, this paper will also examine the various methods of sustainability that can be employed for Tourism to be improved.

Research Question(s)

  • What are the positive and negative views that Barbadians have towards tourism?
  • Is there a significant difference among GDPs of the previous ten years in Barbados?
  • What is the current economic landscape of Barbados pre and post tourism. This section will be briefly observing the other industries in Barbados but more focus on the sugar cane era and how tourism eclipsed same, to be the dominant forefront as one of the country’s main foreign exchange earner?
  • How important is tourism to Barbados and its impact over a time span of 1960-2014, which could be either be direct or indirect. This will be fairly broad, which will comprise of employment, infrastructures, pollution, crime, economic growth, socially etc?
  • Assessing the sustainability of our tourism industry and reviewing what measures are currently in place and what could be done to further ensure its longevity. 

Literature Review

In order to grasp the magnitude of the impact of the tourism to Barbados, this chapter provides a review of research on tourism. The literature review is organized as follows; a general background on history of the sugar cane era and how tourism eclipsed it to be one of the major income earners for the country and its contribution to Barbados. This chapter will then shift unto the various impacts that Tourism has contributed to the country, with it observing the economical, social and cultural ways that Tourism has defined and shaped Barbados, while integrating the research questions into this chapter, before it concludes with its sustainability. 




In order to collect primary data, a survey will be administered to the selected population suitable for the study. The population will be defined as individuals who play a role in the tourism industry. This is inclusive of hotel workers as well as other persons such as taxi drivers. Moreover, locals who had no connection to the tourism industry will be provided with questionnaires to gather information on their perspective of tourism in Barbados. The anticipated sample size for the study is three hundred persons (300).


Secondary and primary data will be collected in an effort to carry out the study. The secondary data will be obtained from The Central Bank and other sources, while a questionnaire will be used to collect the primary data. The aim is to conduct the questionnaire administration mid March, 2017 with a return date set for the beginning of April, 2017. One questionnaire will be issued to each individual, although additional questionnaires could be conducted via email or telephone.


Research Design

The research will utilize primary research techniques as well as secondary research. Therefore, the study is divided into two phases: the first phase will be the examination of secondary sources, and the second phase is the collection of primary data from the questionnaire. In selecting the participants, it was important to have a mix of tourism and non-tourism operators from the community. Moreover, the population includes representatives from both these groups as well as members of the local council and tourism authority.

The primary research will utilize mixed methods as the questionnaire will provide both qualitative and quantitative data. Through open-ended and close-ended questions, the questionnaire collects data on the social and cultural impacts of tourism in Barbados. This qualitative component of the study will further explore the impacts of tourism on the community, and also examine the potential indicators for measuring the impacts. In contrast, the aim is that any secondary data collected will comprise data on the economic impact of tourism in Barbados.



Along with secondary data to be collected from the Central Bank, a survey will also assess the social impact of tourism on Barbados.

Data Analysis

Prior to analysis, the data collected will be entered into the Predictive Analytics SoftWare (PASW) for data analysis. Moreover, to test the research questions, simple descriptive statistics (mean and standard deviation) will be calculated.





Based on the proposed approach and outline described herein, it is felt that the research topic once carefully constructed and administered will embody a wealth of information which can be used to verify how tourism has shifted not only the economic landscape of Barbados, but also redefine the country’s social and cultural views with the timeline from 1970-2014 identified as a tool for measurement.

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