Keeping in theme with Jamaica Kincaid and the act of tourism, it’s important to look into her perspective as a writer in order to better understand the arguments in her article “The Ugly Tourist.” Antigua is a Caribbean island about 300 miles southeast of Puerto Rico and about 600 miles north off the coast of South America. Like many of the Caribbean islands, its economy is based on tourism–that’s to say its often a stop for cruise ships, especially those advertising the popular trip to “Saint John’s”. According to the CIA World Factbook, tourism to Antigua depends largely on tourists from the United States, Canada and Europe. Since the island like much of the Caribbean is vulnerable to natural disasters, that affects its economy as well since tourism necessitates mother nature’s cooperation. With this in mind, the reader can understand the audience that Kincaid is writing to, and why her article isn’t directed towards everyone in the world, or even every tourist in the world. As illustrated in her article: “as you walk down a busy street in the large and modern and prosperous city in which you work and live” is indirectly outlining the American, Canadian or European tourist from some booming American, Canadian or European economy. Understanding this, the reader can now make the connection between this specific audience and the juxtaposition that she is implicitly drawing–the prosperous economy versus the on-edge economy of Antigua. The CIA World Factbook points out that :
“In 2009, Antigua’s economy was severely hit by the global economic crisis and suffered from the collapse of its largest private sector employer, a steep decline in tourism, a rise in debt, and a sharp economic contraction between 2009-11. Antigua has not yet returned to its pre-crisis growth levels.”
This fact helps reveal the very real gravity tourism has in the equation of Antigua’s economy. Unlike prosperous cities, Antigua lacks enough development of economic sectors outside of tourism to make it a stable economy–one that doesn’t drastically change completely if only one factor is out of wack. It’s this reality that adds another dimension to “The Ugly Tourist”– the perspective of the native who either works in agriculture or hospitality, and whose prayers go to hoping that people will keep coming to see the spectacle that is at their whims.