Big Ships, Small Towns: The Impact of New Port Developments in the Cruise Tourism Industry. The case of Falmouth Jamaica
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ABSTRACT The cruise sector constitutes one of the fastest growing sectors of the tourism industry. With the continued growth of the industry comes the need to develop new ports to accommodate the increased volume of ships as well as the increasing size of modern cruise ships. It is important to understand how the development of new cruise ports impacts the local community. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to identify the attitudes and perceptions of residents regarding the impacts of the new cruise ship port development in Falmouth, Jamaica. The Historic Port of Falmouth was developed through a partnership between Royal Caribbean and the Port Authority of Jamaica and is the largest purpose-built port of call in the Caribbean. A case study approach was utilized to identify the attitudes and perceptions of residents regarding the impacts of the new port development in Falmouth, Jamaica. The study consisted of semi-structured interviews, and participant observation. The research took place in Falmouth in March 2012. A total of 23 interviews were carried out with residents who had varying levels of involvement with tourism. The three overarching themes emanating from the analysis of the data are: Big Ships, Big Disappointment, What could be improved? and All is Not Lost at Sea. Findings revealed that Falmouth residents are disappointed with the development because they have not received the economic benefits they were promised by Royal Caribbean. Despite the residents’ frustration and disappointment with the port, many still believe that it has given some opportunity for residents to improve their quality of life. The powerlessness of members of small Caribbean communities in the face of large tourism developers is evident throughout the study.