The Other Side of Paradise : Tourism, Conservation and Development in the Bay Islands

Susan C. Stonich

ISBN: 1-882345-31-2


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Chapter 1. Introduction

  • The Growth of International Tourism in Central America
  • Community Participation, Development, and Conservation
  • The Political Ecology of Tourism and Conservation
  • The Scheme of This Book
Chapter 2. The Historical Legacy: The Emergence of Bay Islander Identity
  • Geographical Setting
  • Spanish-Anglo Conflict in the Bay Islands
  • The Crown Colony of the Bay Islands
  • The Postcolonial Bay Islands
  • The Islands' Postcolonial Economy
  • Bay Islander Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity
Chapter 3. Imagining the Bay Islands: The Expansion of International Tourism
  • The Emergence of the Modern Tourism Sector
  • The Boom in International Tourism
  • Tourism Development in Sandy Bay, West End, West Bay Beach, and Flowers Bay
  • Conclusions
Chapter 4. Tourism, Demography, and Environment
  • Legislative and Regulatory Framework
  • Major Conservation Efforts: The Bay Islands Environmental Management Project
  • Residents' Views on Environmental and Other Island Problems
  • Population Growth in the Bay Islands
  • Land Use and Land Cover
  • Environmental Conditions
  • Human Environmental Health
  • Endangered Species
  • Protected Areas
  • Conclusions
Chapter 5. The Impacts of Tourism on Community, Ethnicity, Class, and Gender
  • Community, Ethnicity, Class, and Gender
  • Household Structure and Demography
  • The Household Economy
  • Well-Being as Indicated by Household Consumption
  • Patterns in Nutritional Status
  • Well-Being as Suggested by Environmental Health
  • Winners, Losers, and Enhanced Social Conflict
Chapter 6. Contending Coalitions Surrounding Tourism and Conservation
  • Linking Development, Conservation, and Community
  • Social Categories, Interest Groups, and Stakeholders
  • Conflicts and Coalitions Surrounding Tourism and Conservation
  • Current Trends in Conservation: The Sandy Bay-West End Marine Reserve
  • Moving Toward Effective Community-Based Tourism Development and Conservation
  • Conclusions
Chapter 7. The Political Ecology of Tourism and Conservation
  • The Political Ecology of Tourism and Conservation in the Bay Islands
  • Obstacles to Community Participation, Development, and Environmental Conservation
  • Enhancing Local Participation
  • Integrating Cultural Survival Into Tourism and Conservation
  • The Role of History
  • Tourism as Economic Development in the Bay Islands and Central America
  • Toward More Comprehensive Tourism Policy
  • Appendix: Research Methodology


List of Figures

P.1. The path of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Mitch from October 22 to November 6, 1998
1.1  Map of the Bay Islands
1.2. Central American tourist arrivals and receipts: 1960-1995
1.3. Tourist arrivals to individual Central American countries: 1970-1994
1.4. Travel as a percentage of exports: 1973-1995
2.1. Map of Roatán, Utila, and Guanaja
2.2. Bay Islands population: 1834-1858
3.1. Real estate information from the Coconut Telegraph
4.1. Bay Islands population: 1834-1996
4.2. Map of the Sandy Bay-West End Marine Reserve
5.1. Z-score distribution of height-for-age (total sample population)
5.2. Z-score distribution of height-for-age (islanders and ladinos)

List of Tables

1.1 Tourist receipts as a percentage of total export receipts
2.1 Bay Islands population: Place of birth: 1858
2.2 Bay Islands population: Ethnic distribution: 1855 and 1858
3.1 Growth in the number of Bay Island hotels: 1960-1996
3.2 Characteristics of Bay Island Hotels: 1996
3.3 Roatán, Sandy Bay, West Bay, and West End accommodations: 1996-1997
4.1 Tourist impacts in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America: 1995
4.2 Tourist impacts in the Bay Islands: 1974-1997
4.3 Land use and land cover on the Bay Islands
5.1 Comparison of demography and household structure by community, ethnicity, and gender
5.2 Comparison of household economy by community, ethnicity, and gender
5.3 Comparison of well-being as indicated by household consumption
5.4 Source of water supply: Honduras and Bay Islands: 1993
5.5 Source of excreta disposal facility: Honduras and Bay Islands: 1993
5.6 Fecal coliform analyses of seawater sites: 1991-1993
5.7 Outpatient visits by diagnosis: Honduras (1988) and St. Luke's Mission, Sandy Bay, Bay Islands (1994)
6.1 Stakeholders and coalitions surrounding tourism and conservation

List of Photos

1.1. "Paradise!" West Bay Beach, one of the most important tourist attractions on Roatán
1.2. Weighing and measuring ladino boy as part of this project
2.1. Jane Harvey Houlson, companion of Frederick Mitchell-Hedges, 1934
2.2. Early adventure tourist and collector, Frederick Mitchell-Hedges, 1934
3.1. Roatán International Airport, 1991
3.2. Roatán International Airport, 1997
3.3. Accommodations at an upscale dive resort on Roatán
3.4. Dive boats and dolphin pens at an upscale dive resort on Roatán
3.5. Combination islander house, resort office, and gift shop, Roatán
3.6. Economy guest house owned by foreigner, Roatán
3.7. Foreigner-owned dive boat and boat dock, Roatán
3.8. Islander-owned restaurant and bar, Roatán
4.1. Erosion and gully due to unstabilzed road construction, Roatán
4.2. "Traditional" method of sewage disposal on Roatán
4.3. Common current method of sewage disposal on Roatán
4.4. Polluted drainage area, Roatán
5.1. Islander community on the western shore of Roatán
5.2. Baptist church on Roatán
5.3. Islander children, Roatán
5.4. Ladino children, Roatán
5.5. Traditional islander house, fishing dory, and new house construction, Roatán
5.6. Traditional islander house with porch and wooden stilts, Roatán
5.7. Ladino ghetto on lagoon, Roatán
5.8. Ladino house on hillside, Roatán
6.1. Paradise for sale! Real estate development of the West Bay Beach area

Book Reviews

The following excerpts are from a book review by Pauline J. Sheldon, School of Travel Industry Management, University of Hawaii, HI, appearing in the journal Information Technology & Tourism (2000), vol. 3, no. 3/4 (pp. 228-229):

This book is a rigorous and comprehensive study on the development of tourism in the Bay Islands. The book's main focus is an analysis of tourism development's impact on the community and the environment. Political ecology is used as the main analytical tool of the book.

The prime market for this book includes researchers of environmental and sociocultural impacts of tourism. Those interested in learning the methods of political ecology would be well advised to read this case. The methodology is well explained and adds to the literature in the field.

The main objectives of the book are to show the complexity of tourism development and conservation in the Bay Islands. The use of political ecology to the environmental- and human-related problems gives the reader a deep sense of the multifaceted issues involved in tourism planning and development. While not all issues in the Bay Islands are applicable to all destinations, there are many that are and that can be valuable lessons for planners in other locations.

All researchers involved in planning and policy-making in relatively untouched destinations can learn much from this book.

The following excerpts are from a book review by Vanessa Slinger, University of Florida, FL, appearing in Economic Geography (????), vol. ?, (pp. ???):

Tourism has become and important development alternative for many Latin American countries struggling against the vulnerability of a narrow range of agricultural and natural resource exports.

Susan C. Stonich takes time to explore the expansion of the international tourism market and considers the economic, cultural, and environmental impacts of this expansion. She attributes ineffective tourism and conservation development to a lack of "thorough sociocultural analysis that identifies relevant, multilevel stakeholders" and deficient assessment of the power relationships between and within these stakeholders. Using a political ecology approach, she identifies the inequality in access to resources that exists within the context of the Bay Islands of Honduras and connects this disparity to "environmental destruction and human poverty."

Stonich uses this book to present a methodological framework for conducting social science research that can lead to sound policy recommendations and successful community-based projects. I highly recommend this thoroughly researched and well-written book to professors of upper-level conservation and development courses in tourism, geography, political science, anthropology, and environmental studies, as well as to consultants involved in development projects.