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Cruise Tourism in St.Lucia; Promoting Locally Owned and Operated Tourism Businesses

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face a unique set of challenges when it comes to the field of Planning. In 1992, the United Nations Earth Summit brought international attention to SIDS; the combination of geographic isolation, small size, and limited resources were listed as a few of the unique environmental and economic disadvantages facing these islands. The island of St.Lucia, located in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean, is classified by the United Nations as one of the vulnerable SIDS in the Caribbean region. Since the 1992 Earth Summit, the literature on planning strategies for SIDS has shifted away from an economic based mass tourism strategies toward a culturally and environmentally focused sustainable tourism strategies; such as eco-tourism and community-based tourism. Mass tourism, through the form of cruise ship tourism, is currently the largest sector of the Caribbean tourism market. Based on the cruise tourism trends over the past 30 years, the Caribbean cruise tourism industry is expected to continue to grow at a rapid pace. The continual growth in this form of mass tourism contradicts the current planning policy trends toward sustainable tourism strategies. In order to better understand ways of connecting cruise tourism to small island sustainable tourism, this thesis examines aspects of the mass cruise tourism-sustainable tourism contradiction. This thesis evaluates the various types of tourism development strategies for SIDS, as well as, examines St.Lucia’s current tourism development policies. Interviews with local onshore business owners were then conducted in order to understand the relationship between local cruise-dependant businesses and the cruise ship industry. Finally, recommendations are given on ways to incorporate cruise tourism into St.Lucia’s existing community-based tourism goals.