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The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

By Kenrick Chambers

Kenrick Chambers.
Kenrick Chambers.

The opportunity and possibility for St. Vincent and the Grenadines to develop a sustainable tourism industry would considerably increase with an international airport. The country would be more accessible; and therefore take advantage of its natural resources – sun, sea, and sand, with the conjecture that the tourism sector will improve with enhanced air accessibility. But there is a price to pay. There are negative economic impacts from building an international airport.

United Nations Environment Programme on Resource Efficiency and Sustainable Consumption and Production states, “There are many hidden cost to tourism, which can have unfavourable economic effects on the host community.” Frequently rich countries are more incline to profit from tourism than poorer countries. While least-developed countries have the most imperative need for income, employment and overall rise of the standard of living by means of tourism, third-world nations are least able to benefits from the development. The primary reason why less develop countries does not benefit from tourism development is the large-scale transfer of tourist revenues out of the host country and exclusion of local businesses and products — also known as economic leakage.

Economic leakage occurs when tourist spending goes to airlines, hotels, and international companies that are usually foreign; consequently, most of the spending does not circulate to local businesses and workers. For example, a study of tourism leakage, conducted by Sustainable Living, show that 80 per cent of money spent by tourists in the Caribbean ends up in the pockets of foreign-owned tour operators, airlines, hotels, imported beverages and food companies. Leakages arise in two ways generally: Import leakage and Export leakage.

Commonly, import leakage occurs when tourist demand standards of equipment, food, and other products that the host country cannot supply. Especially in less-developed countries, food and drinks are imported, since local products are not up to the hotel’s (i.e. tourist’s) standards or the country simply doesn’t have a supplying industry. Therefore, much of the income from tourism expenditures leaves the country to purchase imported commodities.

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In developing country, most of the infrastructural development projects (e.g. resort, hotels, construction, etc.) are usually finance by large foreign corporations, and accordingly they take their profit back to their home country (headquarters) — as a result, export leakage transpires.

Other Negative Impacts of an international airport are: infrastructure cost; inflation; and environmental. “Tourism development can cost the local government and local taxpayers a great deal of money,” echoes the United Nations. Already evident in the case of SVG, for example, airport departure tax increased; and, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves presented Parliament with an EC$799.1 million national budget encumbered with increased taxes. Another costly impact is: developers (hotels and airlines) usually request infrastructure, such as roads and airports, to be improve, which can be expensive to taxpayers in developing countries. Additionally, another pricy undesirable impact can present itself via inflation. I will clarify: due to tourism development, inflation can ensue when increased demand for goods and services by tourists increases local commodity prices, and, as a result, local residents whose wages does not adjust, therefore, would have to pay higher prices for goods and services. Another adverse impact of an international airport is the environmental sacrifice. For instance, the assessment conducted by the German firm (KOCKS Consult GMBH) for the Argyle International Airport specified “… off-site operation impact may affect legally protected migratory and resident species of birds at Milligan Cay, which lies in the direct approach corridor of aircraft.” Also, noise pollution is an undesirable effect of an international airport — particularly on children’s health and development. A study inspecting the impact of airport noise on children’s health found higher blood pressure in kids living near Los Angeles’ LAX airport than in those living farther away. Moreover, a German study (1995) found there is a strong correlation between chronic noise exposure at Munich’s International Airport and elevated nervous system activity and cardiovascular levels in children living nearby.

Nonetheless, with unfavourable economic impacts and environmental issues looming, there are pros and cons in every situation. Therefore, there are positive impacts that can be beneficial if the appropriate panacea of fiscal, monetary, and environmental policies are implemented by the government.

Read also: Positive economic impacts of an international airport: a comparative analysis

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

13 replies on “Negative economic impacts of an international airport: a tourism development perspective”

  1. The points raised in this article are credible and noteworthy. The piece is poorly edited, if at all.

      1. I could not comment on class and sophistication because I know precious little about those qualities. They are just too classy and too sophisticated for my palate.

        The writer makes important points that are worth knowing. And it is for that reason that such a good article does not deserve the persistent grammatical errors that it contains. I know for sure that it needed to be edited before publishing.

        Each to his own order.

      2. Kenrick Chambers says:

        J James, Although writhing is an art, so it is therefore subjective, thanks for the compliment and constructive feedback. I appreciate it.

  2. Antigua makes 98% of it’s gross revenue from tourism. LIAT is a government sponge. Hotels and tourist based businesses can’t even list themselves on prime world player website simply because they won’t do business with LIAT. The problem lies in the government interaction and ownership of an airline. E.T. Joshua was built pointing the wrong way. Planes can’t take off safely with a tail wind and without another airport we are simply held captive by Liat who has also blocked ferry service not just here but in other locations in the Caribbean as well. If you think an airport isn’t important, you don’t understand simple economics and you don’t understand the importance of tourism in the Caribbean. Remember that there is NO country left in the entire world relying on agriculture for 100% of their revenue. That’s been proven time and time again as a huge failure. As a wise man once said,”never put all your eggs in one basket”. Liat and the idea of government run businesses in general is a failed communist idealism that should left in Venezuela and Cuba where people have been repressed to the point of fear. It’s only greed and stupidity that dictate that a ticket from St.Vincent to St.Lucia 23 miles away should cost more than a ticket from Canada to Barbados. The new airport is clearly the most progressive idea this country has seen since it’s incarnation. When you ride on a big highway along with the big boys you either keep up or get out of the way. St.Vincent is clearly in LAST place in the entire Caribbean for importing tourist dollars.People know more about the Grenadines than the motherland but yet 80% of the gross population lives there. Liat needs to be sold, the new airport needs to welcome every single airline that will sign up and the government needs to re-think their tax structure to be in line or lower than the competition in order to compete. Teach people to think and act on their own rather than just a copy-cat society and get business and money back in the hands of the people and out of the hands of government. Constant government bashing and opposition stone throwing doesn’t fix or even improve anything. Addressing issues directly and having people interact rather than fight for the sake of power and control fixes problems, arguing only builds more. Politicians everywhere in the world need to ditch the egos and get back to working for the people that hired them to begin with.

    1. Kenrick Chambers says:

      AJ. You’ve made some valid point. However, the article is not: SVG do not need an international airport. It is: the negative impact of AN international airport—any international airport—particularly those in the Caribbean. I am not stating there isn’t a need for an international airport in SVG. I am highlighting the negative effects of having one. And from anticipating the negative impacts, the citizens and government of SVG can implement policies and take corrective measures to best soften the undesirable impacts of having an international airport. I do appreciate the dialogue.

  3. WTF! Mr Chambers, I read your first article and thought you were a paid acolyte of the Gonsalves Administration and thought it best to simply ignore your regurgitated tripe and suspicious acts of plagiarism( but lo and behold, here you are now making a counter argument to your OWN f’ king previous analysis, really? Do you have an opinion of your own? Clearly this is not an opinion piece of your own making, or is it?

    So Mr Glass, oh sorry, Mr Chambers, let me ask, ARE YOU FOR OR AGAINST THE BUILDING OF THE AIRPORT?….me? Was ambivalent during the 2010 elections, yes just like the NDP…leaning in favor of it…now, I am straight up against it….I am now convinced that the airport will become a white elephant with no visible means to support it. Given the fact that Europe and the US are doing everything in their powers to wipe us off the global market with draconian trade, tourism and funding policies. Here is just a snippet of what reality looks like for the Caribbean Region in the foreseeable future. They have already taken away our preferential treatment (WTO); Britain of all places have implemented an insidious travel policy to the Caribbean, called the Air Passenger Duty; the European Union (EU) – “one of the biggest aid donors to the Caribbean region – could reduce their level of aid to all Caribbean states, except Haiti, because they are Middle Income Countries. While the European Commission has stressed that no firm decision has been made on aid reduction to African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states, under the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2014-2020, a “differentiated approach” to aid is being adopted. Already, under this approach, the EU has eliminated traditional aid to 17 countries that are Upper Middle Income countries, and 2 large Middle Income countries”(Sir Ronald Saunders-A Dark Time For The Caribbean)

    So given the trend of things in regards to globalization and our minimal role on the world stage…I believe we should be investing in our people by strengthening and improving our best export….our sporting prowess and intellect. We need to invest in sporting stadiums and universities, that should be our priorities….we have an abundance of water in the Region, yet there is no state of the art sea transportation that travels between the islands on a regular basis…why is that? But we building a billion dollar airport with questionable plans going forward.

    We keep spinning top in mud with tourism and keep doing the same things for years now…how about doing something different to attract the snow people to the region than just telling them about sea water and sand, as Chalkie told us years ago. Here is a novel idea, legalize weed and make it part of our tourism strategy…we are known to have some of the best weed in the world…why not embrace this fully and have the snow people breaking their necks to come here…too radical? Check the Dutch…just making a point, no need to get your panties in a bunch.

    Given our sporting achievement despite our limited means, a National Stadium should be the project taken place at Argyle rather than the money pit, that is currently being built.

    @ J James…what are you trying to say?…..I am saying it, based on evidence in the first article, this is Stephen Glass 2.0…I would like Mr Chambers to clear his name….and will issue an apology if I so wrongly accused Mr Chambers…but for now I am sticking to my guns….Your move Mr Chambers.

    1. Kenrick Chambers says:

      Teacherfang,I am not “a paid acolyte of the Gonsalves Administration.” Nor am I politically affiliated with ANY political party in SVG. You can obtain the research paper in its entirety (References and Abstract) at Pepperdine University, where it was present at the West Los Angeles Graduate Campus, 6100 Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90045, on April 10, 2013. And to answer your insular conviction of me “making a counter argument to my OWN f’ king previous analysis.” My research was to forecast the consequences (pros and cons) of building an international airport, utilizing historical, statistical, and comparative methodologies to qualify the supposition. So, it is not a matter of whether I am “FOR OR AGAINST THE BUILDING OF THE AIRPORT.” But, the matter is what can be anticipated as a result of building the airport. Futhermore, it is non-productive to dwell on an impractical debate on whether the airport should be built or not—because the fact is—it’s already in progress.
      So Teacherfang, although personal, sometimes amusing, unprofessional, and even disrespectful, I respect and appreciate your opinion—you stressed some excellent points nonetheless, even though unconnected to the article’s debate.

  4. AJ, There is an article about the ‘Positive Impact of an International Airport’ by Kenrick Chambers, I think you should read it. The articles are well written and present a compelling debate. What I like is that all data sources are referenced. Good work Kenrick Chambers. I anticipate reading more articles from you.

  5. Wait a minute, Mr Chambers, what debate? Do you know the meaning of debate?..of course you do. A debate is about opposing views. But you are certainly not putting forth one here. This is the precise reason why I came at you as I did. Having seen your first article, I thought you had an agenda but then I saw your second article and was momentarily confused. I then recognized that you were merely regurgitating long established researched findings. I have no interest in your findings without your own views. Had you put forth a view, then I would have had a little respect for your work. I am just saying. Keep your scholarly work in the classroom…lol…Ok I am f**king with you.

    Mr Chambers you ever eat breadfruit? just checking…wait I hope I am not being insular.

    Mr Chambers, I will leave you with the immortal words of brother Bob…you do know who is brother Bob, right?

    Why boasteth thyself, O evil men;
    Playing smart and not being clever, oh no!
    I say you’re working iniquity
    To achieve vanity, yeah, if a-so a-so.
    But the goodness of Jah – Jah
    Idureth for Iver.
    These are the words of my master
    Keep on tellin’ me – o-oh! – no weak heart shall prosper:
    Oh no, they can’t! Eh.

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