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Behind the Smile

The Working Lives of Caribbean Tourism

George Gmelch

Publication Year: 2003

Behind the Smile is an inside look at the world of Caribbean tourism as seen through the lives of the men and women in the tourist industry in Barbados. The workers represent every level of tourism, from maid to hotel manager, beach gigolo to taxi driver, red cap to diving instructor. These highly personal accounts offer insight into complex questions about tourism: how race shapes interactions between tourists and workers, how tourists may become agents of cultural change, the meaning of sexual encounters between locals and tourists, and the real economic and ecological costs of development through tourism. This updated edition includes several new narratives and a new chapter about American students' experiences during summer school and home stays in Barbados.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-x

When people talk about tourism, they usually talk about their own holiday experiences and the places they have seen. Rarely do they consider the people who serve them and make their vacations possible...

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1. Island Tourism

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pp. 1-24

Tourism is travel dedicated to pleasure. Although the Oxford English Dictionary dates the term’s first appearance in print to 1811, the concept of traveling for leisure dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, whose elites traveled to exotic places around the Mediterranean (Honey 1999)...

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2. Work and Encounters in Tourism

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pp. 25-39

The workers’ narratives that comprise the bulk of this book relate to important issues in our understanding of tourism. This chapter strives to frame and provide context, beyond the mostly macrolevel issues dealt with in Chapter 1, for the stories that...

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3. The Airport

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pp. 40-53

On islands, the airport is the gateway for most travelers. Other than cruise-ship passengers and the small number who arrive on private boats, everyone arrives by air. The airport in Barbados, Grantley Adams International, is named after the island’s elder...

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4. The Hotel

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pp. 54-115

Most visitors to the Caribbean stay in hotels, though guest houses, resort cottages, and apartments are also available. Barbados has 150 hotels; most of the island’s medium and large hotels are owned by international chains headquartered in Britain and the United States.1 Because hotels are the preferred form of accommodation...

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5. The Beach

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pp. 116-142

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...

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6. The Attractions

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pp. 143-178

Tourist attractions are the activities, things to do, and places to see that occupy and entertain tourists away from the hotel and beach. The Barbados Tourism Authority lists seven categories of attractions: Activities at sea are cruises above the sea...

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7. Government and Tourism

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pp. 179-188

In 1958, as tourism to the Caribbean region was beginning to take off, the Barbados Tourist Board was created by the Barbadian government as the statutory authority responsible for marketing and promoting the island. In 1993, the name was changed...

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8. Conclusion

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pp. 189-200

As oral historians well know, it is difficult to generalize from a small number of narratives. The diversity of the work portrayed in the preceding pages makes the task even more complex, as the twenty narratives represent a range of jobs in a large industry—the largest in the world today. Nonetheless, some common threads...

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pp. 201-202

This book would have never been completed without the help of Union College Student Research Fellows Megan Denefrio, Hannah Gaw, Amanda Haag, Jessica Henry, Emily Sparks, and Justine Willey, who assisted in various ways from transcribing interviews to critiquing narratives...


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pp. 203-208


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pp. 209-211

E-ISBN-13: 9780253001290
E-ISBN-10: 0253001293
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253342720

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 19 b&w photos, 2 maps, 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2003