St. Lucia, an island in the eastern part of the Caribbean, has undergone a transformation from an economy dependent on small scale agriculture to which embraces tourism as a means of increasing growth and opportunity for the small island. This strategy with regard to tourism has been successful in attracting many visitors to the picturesque mountains and idyllic beaches, but at what cost to the traditional livelihoods of the residents of the nation? This study seeks to respond to this.
The research question guiding this study seeks to identify the impacts of the development of tourism in St. Lucia on farmers who were, or still are, dependent on local banana agriculture. This question has the objective of better understanding the effects of this major change by looking specifically at local banana farmers. It is hypothesized that one of two impacts will be seen; either the development of tourism has increased disparity between those who remain in small scale agriculture versus those who have sought out new opportunities in entrepreneurship and employment in the tourism industry, or in the alternative it is possible that the reduced supply of local agriculture and increased demand for local produce has in fact had led to increased prices and opportunities for local banana farmers.
Specific aims to fulfill this objective and answer the research question and develop a better understanding and insight with regard to the impacts on traditional livelihoods are:
To understand the change to the local banana markets of St. Lucia, in terms of customer base, market size and profit margins;
To understand the perceptions of local farmers with regard to the changes which have occurred and impacted their business with the rise of tourism in St. Lucia; and
To seek out any unintended effects of this economic growth with regard to local banana farming.