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Small island tourist economies across the life cycle

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Using an abbreviated three-stage version of the destination life cycle as a theoretical backdrop, this study applies the tourism penetration index (TPI) to 36 small islands less than 1 million in population and 5000 km2 in area. Most developed are primarily Caribbean, least developed Pacific and Indian Ocean, and intermediates from all regions. Tourism characteristics of each group (stage) are detailed and changes are recorded between 1991 and 2001. Descriptive profiles reveal sharp differences in socio-economic and demographic modernisation up the cycle. Rising tourism development is associated with rising income, in-migration, literacy and life expectancy, and falling unemployment, fertility and infant mortality. These same differences surface when islands are dichotomously categorised by political status with dependencies outperforming sovereign islands. This evidence indirectly suggests that successful tourism-driven small islands represent a special insular development case and an alternative to migration, remittances, aid and bureaucracy.

Keywords: development; island; life cycle; small; tourism

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-04-01

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