Challenges of Tourism in the Caribbean

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With more than 25 million visitors coming every year to enjoy its beaches, sunsets and water recreation, tourism is one of the major economic industries in the Caribbean. Once the playground only of the rich and famous, today’s traveler can see many of these Caribbean gems as a cruise port of call or via an affordable all-inclusive vacation package. Even with record numbers of visitors each year, tourism in the Caribbean faces a number of challenges.

Most Caribbean islands depend on tourism to support their economy by providing jobs directly associated with this sector: hotel staff, tour operators, restaurant staff, souvenirs vendors, taxi drivers – and the list goes on and on. More indirectly, farmers and agriculture businesses thrive in high tourist areas as well. With all these positives, you may forget about the challenges of visiting the Caribbean, but an informed traveler is a safer, healthier traveler.

Weather Challenges in Hurricane Season

In the Caribbean, hurricane season falls from June 1 through November 30, and a good portion of the Caribbean is in the hurricane belt. Some years present no problem at all, but in other years, hurricanes can be devastating. Active hurricane seasons (or even the mention of them) will make travelers plan other getaway quickly.

What can vacationers do? Know your area and keep a watchful eye on weather if you are visiting during hurricane season, especially August and September. You can also avoid the weather risk of tropical storms by simply planning your trip for another time of the year.


  • Travel to Caribbean destinations outside of the hurricane belt includes places like Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Dominican Republic and Barbados. Typically, these areas aren’t hit by hurricanes, so they might be better choices if you want to visit from June to November.

Safety Concerns in Certain Caribbean Destinations

Some Caribbean areas are safer than others, so always check the U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings section before you plan your vacation. Some areas, however, experience safety warnings relating to crime, drugs and other factors almost all the time. Parts of Jamaica and Mexico continue to struggle with violence and crime, along with petty theft and pickpocketing.


  • Follow these tips to stay safe:

    • Don’t keep all of your money on you; instead, leave some in the hotel or cruise ship cabin safe. If you are traveling as a couple, split the money between you and keep it in your front pockets instead of the back. Pay with small bills so you don’t appear wealthy.
    • When you’re out touring, do not wear flashy, expensive jewelry or carry lots of electronics. Thieves are always looking for jewelry, money, fancy cellphones, cameras and portable electronic devices. Keep those out of sight or in the room safe.
    • Leave bling at home.
    • Do not go out after dark.
    • Be aware of your surroundings at all times and never go anywhere alone. Safety is in numbers.
    • Choose one of the safer Caribbean destinations to visit such as The Cayman Islands, St. Barts, Bonaire, Martinique or Antigua, to name a few.

Health Concerns: Parasites and Sunburns

Many travelers experience “traveler’s gut” (upset stomach, diarrhea, indigestion, etc.). Usually, it’s caused by eating a diet different from what your body is used to in addition to being out of your “normal” routine. However, sometimes it can be more severe, and vacationers might even bring home an extra friend – a parasite. Doctors can treat it with antibiotics, but the best scenario is to prevent it.


  • To prevent traveler’s gut, avoid drinking water that isn’t bottled. Also, don’t eat fruits and veggies with skins on them unless you are in a good, high-end restaurant. Parasites get transmitted this way. Carry an emergency baggie with medications for upset tummy, diarrhea, heartburn/indigestion and take a high-potency probiotic every day.

In the warm, sunny climate, sunburn happens all the time in the Caribbean. Be prepared with more sunscreen than you think you’ll need. Choose high SPFs and reapply often. Wear a hat, sunglasses and a cover-up when you’re in the water or on the beach. To help sunburn, keep some soothing aloe vera gel in your emergency bag. Ibuprofen is excellent for both its anti-inflammatory properties and pain relief.



Writer Bio

Becky Beall is a veteran freelance travel journalist with bylines in newspapers and magazines across the country. A current contributor to 365 Atlanta Traveler and Gulf Shores blogs as well her own, Becky also hosts a travel radio show and travel segments on local Fox TV morning show Good Day Alabama. Follow her travels at



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