Sustainable Tourism


I have finished my third week here in Bocas! It feels weird typing these words because it still feels like week one. Although time has been moving fast, I’m starting to feel a bit homesick. Seeing my loved ones through a screen just isn’t cutting it. On another note, I am finally recovering from an extremely painful ear infection and will hopefully be well enough to partake in the snorkeling excursions for the upcoming week. This past week has prompted me to think critically about the tourism industry and the implications that it has on developing nations. Bocas town has been curated for foreigners to come, let loose, and have a good time. This need calls for hotels, restaurants, and convenience stores which creates jobs for Bocatoreños (i.e. people who are from Bocas). These jobs are usually low paying and depend on the influx of incoming tourists each year for job security. An economy based on tourism is not meant to last and will ultimately result in crises. All of these thoughts prompt me to ask, how does a community change the type of industry that controls majority of their economy? Do changes need to be made? Or is there a way to make the tourism industry sustainable over time?

I was a part of a group that took a night walk this week. On our way, there was an eerie feeling of walking into the rainforest. I saw a large toad, a tarantula, and many daddy longlegs. One daddy long leg sprayed a mist which I learned later was some kind of pheromone. We took turns holding it and letting it craw on our faces. We additionally travelled to an island named Zapatillas to participate in snorkeling and plant identification activities. While I was unable to partake in the snorkeling activity to due my ear infection, I heard that students saw a stingray and a shark. The goal of the plant identification activity was to find bromeliads. Bromeliads are epiphytes, which are plants that grow on other plants without the aspect of being parasitic. We walked on a sand trail and found one bromeliad per group to take back to campus with us.