Once you go you know : tourism, colonial nostalgia and national lies in Jamaica
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Jamaica is rich in contradictions. Life, like the landscape, is made up of great highs and lows, a wealth of beauty paralleled by intense desperation. This report explores these contradictions through an examination of the image of Jamaica packaged and presented to the world as a consumable tourism product. In 2012 as Jamaica prepares to celebrate 50 years of (in)dependence, the small nation finds itself battling (neo)colonialism, dependence, dispossession. Tourism is Jamaica’s main source of revenue and the industry is a major employer. The island’s role as a premier tourist destination is thus inseparable from Jamaicans’ daily lives. The current marketing slogan says to tourists ‘Once you go, you know”, I argue that this assertion is representative of the form tourism takes in Jamaica. By literally and figuratively granting understanding and ownership of the island and its resources to foreigners, the construction of Jamaica’s tourism product systematically commodifies Jamaica, its people, and culture. I seek to interrogate the role of tourism in Jamaica’s continued exploitation and to question the presence of secrecy, colonial nostalgia and national lies in how Jamaicans self identify and in how we are portrayed.