Tourism, Environmental Stewardship, and Community Engagement on Andros Island, Bahamas

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Tourism is the mainstay of the economy of the Bahamas, making up between 40-60% of the GDP and providing jobs for nearly half of the country’s population. However, local communities do not always realize the benefits of tourism, with much of the revenue lost to other countries’ economies. The Small Hope Bay Foundation is a new non-profit organization on Andros Island in the Bahamas with a mission to create an economically and environmentally sustainable Andros. This study aims to understand (1) how the Foundation and the tourism industry on Andros Island can mobilize the perceptions and values of tourists to improve the impacts of the tourism industry on local communities and the environment; and (2) what barriers to community engagement in the dive industry must be overcome to maximize the potential benefits of development. I find that tourists receive functional, emotional, social, and epistemic value from environmental stewardship, environmental quality, and community engagement, suggesting that efforts to improve environmental sustainability and increasing local engagement can appeal to tourists’ values. Thus, preserving natural environments and promoting interactions with the local community can enhance rather than detract from tourists’ experiences, providing support for the Foundation’s efforts in acting as environmental stewards while engaging and empowering the local community. However, lack of local capacity in the dive industry remains a considerable barrier in improving local engagement. Overcoming these barriers will require broad-scale institutional changes as well as local capacity-building efforts in order to improve the ability of local communities to fully realize the benefits of this industry. By working with the community to develop environmental sustainability and community training programs that appeal to tourists, the Foundation can work toward supporting a successful community-based ecotourism model.





Melvin, Emily C. (2020). Tourism, Environmental Stewardship, and Community Engagement on Andros Island, Bahamas. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

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