conducted by business students participating in The University of
Southern Mississippi's Caribbean Studies program last month could
help the Jamaican government shape its tourism policies.
and graduate students from the College of Business and Economic
Development spent more than two weeks in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, interacting
with locals and studying the attitudes of tourists and business
In one project,
students interviewed local restaurant managers, artisans and market
owners to gauge their opinion on the impact of "all-inclusive"
tourist resorts on the local economy. In the other, students surveyed
the level of commercial harassment experienced by cruise ship passengers
during shopping expeditions in Ocho Rios. When completed, the findings
of these studies will be presented to the Board of Tourism in Kingston.
have a reputation for harassing tourists on the streets, trying
to get them to buy things, and to a large extent, that's justified,"
said marketing professor Dr. Tony Henthorne, who just completed
his 62nd trip to Jamaica. "We wanted to see if that was a global
perception, and to see if there was a correlation between the level
of harassment felt by tourists and the money they spent shopping
Katie Pounders said many of the cruise ship passengers she interviewed
felt so harassed while on shore leave that they were eager to get
back to their docked ships. "People who have gone on cruises
before are used to it, but a lot of people who are (employed) in
the tourism industry for the summer are not used to it," Pounders
A side trip
to Kingston, the country's capital and financial hub, allowed students
to visit the national stock exchange and the Bank of Jamaica, similar
to the United States' Federal Reserve. Business students also met
with the director of human resources for Sandals Resorts, which
operates 11 ultra-inclusive luxury resorts in the Caribbean, including
six in Jamaica. Sandals, a Jamaican-owned company, mostly hires
locals for jobs that pay well above the wages earned in typical
Jamaican towns, where the per capita income is about $3,000 U.S.
"The locals who work at these all-inclusive resorts are highly
trained. Jamaicans have done a very good job promoting the industry.
In fact, there are billboards around the country saying, 'Be nice
to our guests. Remember who's paying your bills.'"
Studies program offers a unique opportunity for business students,
Henthorne said. "Jamaica is like any developing world country,
but because they speak English, it makes it easier to interact,"
he said. "Plus the beaches make it easy to recruit students."
the trip wasn't all research and studying, Pounders said. During
their free time, students lounged next to crystal clear oceans,
climbed waterfalls, shopped and dined. There was, Henthorne added,
an occasional adventure or two.
Ocho Rios from their trip to Kingston, the business students learned
the road connecting the two cities was closed. So on the return
journey, what had originally been a smooth two-hour trip became
a five-hour scenic tour through the back roads and hillsides of
Jamaica. "We got to go over and through places most tourists
never see," Henthorne said.
74 people participated in the Caribbean Studies program, which began
in 1985. Students in social work, psychology, criminal justice and
community health also made the trip to Jamaica from May 17-June
For more information
about the Caribbean Studies program and other international study
abroad programs offered through Southern Miss, contact the Center
for International and Continuing Education at (601) 266-4344.