Behind the Smile: The Working Lives of Caribbean Tourism

By George Gmelch | Go to book overview

5 THE BEACH

It is the clichéd sun, sand, and sea that still draw the most visitors to the Caribbean, though there is increasing interest in alternatives to the beach, such as adventure and heritage tourism. Few places have been more inspirational in our leisure life than the beach, note Lena Lencek and Gideon Bosker in The Beach: The History of Paradise on Earth (1998). These sandy stretches capture our imaginations with more directness, and in the industrialized world, beaches have served as places of retreat and relaxation.

The beach is a playground. The opportunities for recreation range from the active (swimming or snorkeling in the warm turquoise sea, diving the coral reefs, parasailing, water-skiing, and jetskiing) to the passive (relaxing in a lounge chair, reading, sunbathing, and people-watching). The possibilities of romance and sex are also part of the allure. Barbados’s travel brochures, like those for most tropical destinations, portray the island’s beaches as sites for sexual adventures. The brochures feature color photographs of bikini-clad bronzed women lying on the sand or frolicking in the sea or beautiful, anatomically perfect couples holding hands while strolling on the beach at sunset or gazing at night into the velvety horizon, drinks in hand (Lencek and Bosker 1998). The language of the brochures appeals to our fantasies; they talk of “romantic interludes” and “tropical escapades” (Chambers 2000).

In Barbados, the workday on the beaches begins at 7 A.M, when hotel employees hand-rake the sand and pick up chunks of coral rock and litter washed ashore during the night. Once the beach has been manicured, they set out lounge chairs and umbrellas. Guests eager to claim the best locations get there early and place their

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Behind the Smile: The Working Lives of Caribbean Tourism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Preface to the Second Edition xi
  • 1- Island Tourism 2
  • 2- Work and Encounters in Tourism 28
  • 3- The Airport 43
  • 4- The Hotel 57
  • 5- The Beach 114
  • 6- The Attractions 139
  • 7- The Research and Promotion of Tourism 188
  • 8- Conclusion 211
  • Epilogue 228
  • Acknowledgments 244
  • Acknowledgments for the Second Edition 246
  • Bibliography 248
  • Index 254
  • George Gmelch 258
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