#travel · 1 year ago

Jamaicans Working at Resorts

I have family in Jamaica and come to visit them periodically (usually about 3 times a year in normal times). My family is upper middle class in Jamaica and they live very comfortably in a gated villa. We interact with locals regularly but I know there is a large part of Jamaican society that I’m completely sheltered from. Every so often we go and stay at the resorts. I’ve stayed at maybe 7 or 8 resorts in various parts of Jamaica. There is a question that has been gnawing at the back of my mind that I’d love to get peoples’ thoughts on that I feel like my family hasn’t been able to answer adequately. All the people working at these resorts seem very respectful and cheerful, etc. I know they’re paid to do that, and I also see some of them play up the whole Jamaican act (ie. “Yah Mon!”) for tips. Some of them seem to genuinely enjoy their jobs. So my question is how much do the resorts serve to increase the quality of life for these folks? They’re constantly exposed to foreigners with money, see how they live, see how they’re served, and see massive amounts of consumption that may not be the norm in their day to day lives. Does all of this have a positive impact on their lives? Does it create potential resentment? Is it just a job that they believe is detached from an unattainable reality? Or does it inspire them to achieve more? Not sure if there is a right answer, hence why it has a discussion flair. Would love your thoughts!


My family is Jamaican and I’ve been several times and this is something that perplexed me. I don’t know if this is misplaced anger, but it’s plain to see resorts are not a good thing for the longevity of regular Jamaicans. At the end of the day, yes - it provides much more stable work than trying to sell at the market or open up a stall. My older relatives in Jamaica in the countryside rely on my parents for money and medical care, or to send products that are too expensive for them to buy. Places like resorts are in many ways a better option. But ultimately, as someone mentioned previously it is taking away from Jamaicans. The island is “sold” as a commodity to folks who have no interest aside from trying something “exotic” and going to the “brand” that is Jamaica. But what is left for actual Jamaicans to enjoy? What is the point of going to work everyday in a place that will never let you rise above because you come from the wrong side of tracks, yet they need you to profit?

It’s all a matter of perspective, but this is why resorts are personally icky, to me. We must do better, or at the very least tip heavily when we go. I look forward to a day when the needs of everyday Jamaicans are put above the pockets of temporary leadership. This is a prevailing problem in the Caribbean, just look at bauxite and who is disproportionately impacted, and who profits. But again, just my perspective.


I’ve opened resorts and the reason I quit was because of how they treat people. Before it was a 6 day work week.

You will rarely see a local in an executive positions in those resorts, I’ve referred locals to director positions (unless they are from your type of background) to be told that “those people” will never be hired. But they do pay better than minimum wage but minimum wage in Jamaica is à joke.

I will always remember when they turned Jamaica grande in Ocho Rios to an all inclusive, local businesses saw a drop of 30% and the government still chooses to open one resort after another to the point that locals do not have public beaches anymore

These resorts get built because they have big tax evasion agreements where they don’t pay taxes for 20-25 years. Just look at what sandals did in Antigua they closed the resort when the government wanted to charge them taxes and they made the people revolt against their own government. Not to mention a lot of new resorts are Spanish chains who import their own Spanish workers taking away from Jamaican jobs.

Every Caribbean nation would be better with less all inclusive


nah.. The tourism industry is like any other industry. People get paid they can afford goods.

this is NO different from someone working in a luxury shoe store, luxury restaurant, on a cruiseship, a chauffeur, a cashier at Gucci or someone building iphones in China.

Working for and seeing someone else enjoying something you can’t afford is just a global fact of life, no different than any other place. I don’t think there is a way to solve for it but i wouldn’t call it slavery.


The resort’s primary purpose is to make profit maybe a few genuinely want to do good for the community as well but that’s not their reason for existence

You don’t have to work with rich tourists to feel sad about not being able to afford the things that the well off people can

Yes it does create an opportunity for jealousy

Whether or not it demotivates or inspire the worker depends on that individual’s mindset


If they’re getting tips it means they probably make way more than the average Jamaican so they’re probably more happy to work at such resorts than you’d imagine. If they aren’t getting tips then i could see why they’d be resentful because the resorts from what i hear pay meager wages.


Its just a job. I’m sure some people see it more than that,but its just an exchange of wages for services.Some of these places do offer career advancement. I’ve seen tons of people start at entry level positions and then years later they are in an office position.Also some people are meant to work at the entry level position for their entire lives.


Cost of living is less in Jamaica, trust me, if people got paid half of what they got paid in the U.S they would live very well in Jamaica and other developing countries, it’s closer to 10% of the pay of what foreigners get.


Which Jamaica you live in? The cost of living is higher in Jamaica especially in the middle class. The tax on cars is 120%, gas prices are higher, one of the most expensive electricity, water, taxes are high for little to no benefits, you have to pay a toll every-time you use the highway and I could go on more and more.

Housing is cheaper in some areas but that is soon becoming untrue. Alcohol is cheaper, some food but mostly things are more expensive.

And 10% pay what?? They were getting 40% less


Import Tariffs affixed to motor vehicles are linked primarily to the engine’s cc rating and tonnage, in the case of trucks. According to the Trade Board figures, motor cars, including station wagons under 1000cc attract a duty of 67% of the value of the vehicle, cars exceeding 1000cc but are under 1500cc attract a duty of 83%, for cars above 1500cc rating but under 2000cc attract a duty of 94%, while those above 2000cc but not exceeding 3000cc attract a duty of 121%, and cars exceeding 3000cc (Gasoline) or 3200cc (Diesel) attract 180% duty.


Jamaica’s cost of living is not much lower than in the US since everything is imported with heavy customs duties and taxes. We also have some of the most expensive electricity in the world. The only reason people say it’s cheaper is the cost of housing but that’s changing especially in the cities where a one bedroom apartment can cost $1000 USD minimum.


If you want to live like you would in a developed country then sure it’s expensive to live in Jamaica but the reality is that you can get by on way less. You don’t need to rent an apartment for $1k usd when you can find apartments for half that amount all over the island with ease.


Rentals have actually gone down since the pandemic. What has gone up are the housing prices and mainly because investors are looking for higher returns and safer places to put their $. Rentals can’t rise unless salaries also increase which clearly hasn’t happened since the pandemic.




This is a good question. Travel is always about humans who “pay for services”.

Many island nations basically cater to “visitors” as the visiting humans “pay for the economy”. More other countries have “all inclusive” tourism areas for similar reasons.

Jamaica resorts were great back when 2-3 times traveled.

The Polynesian Islands from Fiji, Tahiti to Hawaii mostly are also tourism destinations.

In as much as the world & social media speaks about the “ill’s” of the world, please consider travel if able to some place away from your natural habitat, with a smile.

The pandemic has won more battles than not & will keep rippling for some time. Civil unrest has been experienced in history every so often, a multi-year, complex pandemic? Not so much!

So perhaps think strongly about travel to Jamaica where the water is warm, the melodies of Reggae will beg You to stand up & dance with Life?

So says an Old Tutu (means grandmother not ballet thing) who is old, lives on a tropical island as ohana (family) live on many of the cluster of islands & gets that:

Economies, Housing, Gasoline, Cost of Living squeezes us ALL.

With living loving aloha to friendly Jamaica.

Ps: No prah-blem mah-n (kinda verbally said like that?). Love Jamaica!