The all-inclusive resorts of Montego Bay and Ocho Rios "afford visitors many amenities, but restrict their exposure to the true Jamaican experience." Many are foreign-owned and contribute little to the local economy. Bauxite mining, high cruise-ship traffic, and unsustainable levels of snorkeling are all hurting the region's ecology.
Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:
"Some urban areas do not feel safe, which is problematic. It deters those travelers who would otherwise aim to venture away from the packaged destinations. The coastal areas have lots of history—both cultural and natural. The snorkeling sites were still healthy although, as is the case in almost all Caribbean destinations, the diving staff know almost nothing about the health and environmental sustainability of reefs in their areas. "
"Jamaica is aggressively pursuing tourism as a solution for all its ills. Approximately 2,000 hotel rooms opened in the last two years—pretty much all of them are located in all-inclusive resorts. The social problems are extensive, much of it caused by segregation of tourists and locals. The large all-inclusive resorts could be anywhere, and many of the guests treat their vacation as such, and rarely interact with Jamaicans not directly employed by the tourism industry."
"More a resort theme park than an authentic slice of the Caribbean."
"Environmental degradation ongoing; reef declines, mass tourism, uncontrolled development. Still some aesthetic appeal but much reduced over past decades."
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.