The Jamaica Environmental Trust on Thursday night launched "Jamaica for Sale," a 92 minute video documentary highlighting disturbing issues behind the island's normally rosy sun, sea and sand tourism image.
The video features the faces and voices of Jamaicans and other Caribbean personalities talking about life in the wake of a burst of construction of mega-hotels across Jamaica's coastline. The film shows how gains from tourism development come at a high price to the people.
The film features small hoteliers and other citizens talking about the wide scale removal of the mangroves, wetlands and the breeding grounds of indigenous birds and turtles.
Early in the film, construction workers detail the ill-treatment and low wages they receive from the Spanish hotel developers.
Fishermen gave startling and even unintentionally humorous testimonies about the disappearance of the fish caused by mega-hotel developments on the coast, and about fisher folks' futile attempts to find new fishing grounds. There was irony too as even the hoteliers in coastal properties complain about the lack of fish and other species in the seas their visitors come to enjoy.
Political representatives, social scientists and economists weighed in on the issue, speaking about the "slavery" conditions of the workers, the lack of economic benefit to the poorer people and great developments fronting squalor.
"Jamaica for Sale" shows how places of historical significance are disappearing to make way for cruise ship facilities. This will happen to Falmouth, a town in northern Jamaica that is the site of centuries old forts, churches and markets once so prosperous that it had running water before New York City.
"Jamaica for Sale" shows security guards chasing locals from beaches which were once free to them - while the soundtrack features a popular Calypsonian singing, "This beach is mine." But it is not just the beaches. In one village, the waste management plant from a prominent hotel causes a perpetual stink in the community, and the residents lament that apparently nothing is in the works to stop it.
Regarding the damage from tourists themselves, "Jamaica For Sale" points out that the average tourist drinks 10 times more water and produces three times more waste than locals. Tourism also demands high usage of energy derived from fossil fuels, which has implications for climate change.
"Jamaica for Sale" shows how local people are being cut off, penned in and denied their voice - all in the name of tourism development. The video places a major emphasis on the real price of tourism development.