Jamaica for Sale, a documentary by Esther Figueroa and Diana McCaulay, was screened in Jamaica last week as part of the 2009 Caribbean Studies Association conference in Kingston. The film “counters the dominant view that tourism is the savior of the Jamaican people. Lively and hard hitting, with powerful voices, arresting visuals and iconic music, Jamaica for Sale documents the environmental, economic, social and cultural impacts of unsustainable tourism development.”
Jamaica for Sale follows on the critique of the irreversible damages inflicted on the Caribbean islands by the tourism industry in works like Polly Pattullo’s Last Resorts: The Cost of Tourism in the Caribbean, Mimi Sheller’s Consuming the Caribbean, and the documentaries Life and Debt and Landscape and Memory. Through powerful interviews and interesting juxtapositions, the film dissects the impact of tourism on the environment and population of Jamaica. It is particularly effective in its environmental message, as it depicts the destructive impact of poorly regulated tourism development on water quality, degraded habitats, and depleted marine species. It brings to life themes familiar to critics of tourism development, like the privatization of coastal lands that leaves Jamaicans without access to beaches and the reduction of the local population to service jobs in the industry through poignant interviews with tourist industry workers. It is also quite effective in looking at the impact of tourism development on the inflation in land and housing prices, which makes owing land in their home island impossible for most Jamaicans.
Information on the film can be found at the directors’ website at http://jamaicaforsale.net/