What do average Jamaicans think of tourists from the USA?

I recently returned from a trip to Jamaica. I stayed at a resort in Montego Bay. The staff there was very nice and I believe they were genuinely friendly, but there were things I wondered about. For example, several staff members told us they commute over 90 minutes to work, and only get one day off per week when the resort is full. I understand that the Jamaican economy depends a lot on tourism and that the tips that you stand to earn at a high-end resort probably result in those employees making good money, but it's hard work dealing with a lot of entitled attitudes of guests. Obviously it's hard to get a real sense of that just staying at a walled-off resort in a touristy area. I'm just wondering what the general attitude is there about tourists from the United States. What do they really think about them?

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Advice

Speaking as a Jamaican living in Jamaica I understand your need for clarification. The average Jamaican on a daily basis does not see a tourist everyday unless you are living in a resort town like Montego Bay, Ocho rios or Negril where in those towns tourism is the main driver of the economy there. We don’t hate tourists as a matter of fact we welcome them but obliviously there are people who abuse the system. What I am trying to say is the average Jamaican loves and welcomes tourist cause in the grand scheme of thing it helps to push our economy forward but as always you will find the entitled tourist that eventually re-enforce the stereotype of the Average American(entitled) so yes we do see Americans as having money…well more money than the average Jamaican that a tourist will cross path with. Hope this helps

Advice

My take is they are a blessing (much needed tourism income) and a curse (drives declination in culture as it becomes “Westernized”, encourages overuse of natural spaces and the environment, takes beach access away from the locals for the sake of the tourists, and I could go on…).

Advice

I’m an American with very good friends who work in tourism in Jamaica. I don’t know if this is universal, but my friends don’t blame tourists for their long commutes, lack of days off, and low pay. They do blame the companies who exploit them and the Jamaican government that allows it.

Having said that, they get super frustrated by tourists who mistreat them, are rude and don’t tip. But they will always give each guest the benefit of the doubt and treat them with kindness. I honestly don’t know how they remain so kind and generous considering how often they’re treated like crap.

Advice

They think tourists are rich. Full stop. The concept of vacationing is “understood”, in the sense that you take some time off to spend that with yourself/your family at a hotel, preferably one that’s all inclusive so you don’t have to pay extra for all the other onsite/off-site attractions, occasionally dining, dancing, and hopefully doing the “no pants dance”, all week/weekend/however long it lasts, and commemorating the experience with a picture/postcard/trinket/t-shirt/giftshop item (if it’s not too expensive/overpriced [which it often is]), but, it’s a luxury that they can’t ever indulge in. Jamaicans never really “vacation”. They’re more likely to party tonight and go to work tomorrow or call in sick and either go to the beach/river/sort out some business that leads into some form of partying for some buzz/high. The idea for most Jamaicans is to always be hustling, so vacations are for those people who can afford it, which is, (drum roll), tourists! Tourism is our biggest earner. It is a leftover of the pre and post colonial days of old Jamaica, so there is an inbuilt inferiority complex, as well as a feeling, if not a pressure to feel, that you’ve landed a good, if not, great job, working in the industry. The US, among many other countries of that ilk, “first world” if you’re particular about that, has pioneered, if not codified the culture of tipping as part of the tourist/customer service experience. Black American tipping is different from White American/white foreigner tipping. Jamaicans “tip”, or have rather, come around to it over the years, but to hotel staff it feels like they’re being pitied; almost like begging. The same sentiment is shared for black Americans but with white Americans or white foreigners the sky’s the limit with you guys. When hotel staff see you guys coming they’re looking to come clean you out bby wooh! cuz they know you get really heavyhanded with your gratuity when you get that special treatment. They learn and adapt, making sure to remember buzzwords, times, places, events; shit you guys like to hear that gave them a tip from the last mark- [clears throat] - sorry, guy. I might be a bit cynical and jaded when I say all of this but am I saying that you can’t come here and find a genuine, decent, all around good person who serves you with all the genuineness that they can muster? No. Just leave your assumptions and assertions at the door and just come here and try to have a good time. I know the opinion on this is mixed; some take it and some don’t, but the thing to note here is that the US DOLLAR IS KING in a lot of the staff’s mind.

Advice

Trying to figure out this question. Like how the long commute of those persons ties in. Are you asking the opinion that people have of the tourists as persons, eg. so Jamaicans think Americans are crass, dumb, etc? Or is it, are Jamaicans happy for tourism or mad at it? Do they value tourists from one country vs another?

Whatever the question, short answer is probably they see tourists as people, here to have a good time, good opportunities for economic exchange. Americans are going to be the most numerous and the ‘default’ tourist due to proximity.

Advice

It does not matter whether you are American or not. Once you have landed in Jamaica, you smell like money. And this is understandable because travelling for an average Jamaican does cost money. Even to go to another Caribbean island, it is expensive. It can cost more to go to another island than to fly to Europe from Jamaica.

People from the US, Canada or UK, can often travel because of special fares combined with an all inclusive hotel. Most people cannot afford a 5 star hotel and that is why those resorts are popular. You don’t have to think about the food. You have already paid for it. That is a great combo. Such deals are not good for small Jamaican hotels though.

Many Americans or other foreigners, even if they don’t like Blacks, they don’t come to Jamaica to see Jamaicans, they just come to relax and enjoy the kind of luxury they are not used to back home. Very often, they do not have the money but they give the impression because when they convert the Jamaican dollar into their currency, it is not a lot of money for them because their currency is strong. So the tip is a lot for a Jamaican.

There are other types of tourists, those who actually live with people or who go to airbnb. Those come to visit the country. They don’t have the money but their view on going abroad is different from those who stay inside their hotels. Those who stayed indoors would say “I have been to Jamaica! “ To the question “What is the country like? “ The answer might be something like “Can’t tell you. I stayed in the hotel for two weeks.” The fares have to be the way they are to ensure that the resorts get full. If you really had to pay for a five star hotel like other hotels in Jamaica where food is not included, most tourists could not afford it.

Advice

Well I mean….compared to most people, we definitely do…

I was doing a lot of thinking about this because I figure that the average Jamaican salary is about $25/day. For a third world country, that’s pretty good…but obviously still not a ton, and obviously compared to most Americans, particularly those with the means to visit, that’s pretty scant.

Advice

You are right, we have money because we are able to stay in all inclusives and pay for flights. It might be that we don’t feel like we have money because it’s a once in a lifetime vacation, or we are “broke” compared to our neighbors back home, but you have to realize where people are coming from when they see you as a tourist. You definitely have money through their lens.

If you turn on your tap and water comes out, and you can read this because of an education you got, you are doing great and have a leg up on most.

Also I’ll point out that using the term “third world” is outdated (and shows how trained we are as Americans to think of other places as “behind” or “beneath” us). I’ve been using the term “developing” but would love to hear what others have to say.

Source: Personally work with a community organization in rural Jamaica that serves people, who work at all inclusives and in other tourism related capacities, to meet their basic needs (access to water, for one).

Advice

I agree but again, that doesn’t mean there is expendable money in my pocket like so many believed. People that have high incomes and travel frequently look the same as those of us that literally only had the opportunity to go because they won something through their employer which made their once in a lifetime stay very “cheap” and someone in their family “gifted” them the flight as a wedding gift.

Again, income and net worth are different. Many of us in the U.S. have no money at the end of our bills. And actually, it’s this very misunderstanding that hurts jamaican businesses, because so many pressure foreigners assuming they have something to give when they really don’t, and it turns people off.

I had to have a family member DIE (left me a wedding gift from their estate) and win something just to get there. I didn’t just earn it at my job, my income is for my bills, never vacations. And I had very little money by the time i got there. That was after saving for 10 years!

I totally see where they at coming from but it is from a place of misunderstanding. Net worth and income are different.

Also, I never use the term “third world” because people don’t actually know what it means and it doesn’t mean what people think it means.

Advice

I hardly feel that it’s unfair to point out a flawed perception. Aren’t you doing the exact same thing?

I’m really getting tired of defending my personal experience. This is what I experienced and observed, of course it is coming from a place of self focus. Duh! That’s to be expected when someone says “this is what I experienced.”

It’s not unreasonable to expect people to believe me when I say I don’t have money for them. How that is an unreasonable expectation ANY WHERE in the world is beyond me. Who said I was hung up on it? OP asked what these people thought and I expressed what they made clear in their statements and attitudes towards me. I’m not sure how this is obsessive behavior.

Advice

I would love to know too because it would put my experience in perspective. I can only comment on how i was treated. To be clear, the nicest workers I met were at the resorts. They were amazingly genuine and friendly, but I’ve heard they get super screwed with the pay, and I think that would affect how people feel about their guests.

Advice

I never thought about it like this. I’m visiting in June for my Wedding and will definitely keep that in mind when I get there. If I can bless someone who worked their butt off with a $20-$40 tip (basically tip like when I’m in Vegas) I’m all for it!

Advice

Other than the fact that most people don’t have to save 10 years for one trip to Jamaica (so you’re uncommon) and that “I don’t have money” is a thing that everybody from everywhere always says but doesn’t mean literally (I just don’t have any to give you because I have other bills)… brokeness is relative. Your “no money” is not their no money, it is a safe assumption for them that you can afford a could things they can’t, since you made it here. And in Jamaica, that’s all people need, to start begging. Asking for stuff is embedded in a strange way in our culture, it doesn’t matter if you’re a foreigner or not. The “they think I have money” is something all classes go through daily, up to dealing with the guys on the road washing windshields. Struggling with harsh realities is such a fact of life that “it doesn’t hurt to ask” became pervasive somehow.

tl:Dr; No they don’t think you’re rich, at least like the middle/upper class Americans we point to as rich. They just think you could help them and not go hungry or homeless, which is “have money” enough for them

Advice

I agree, it is definitely a culture thing, and I am certainly not privy to how locals treat each other, so this insight is appreciated. That really makes me hopeful actually <3

I disagree about the 10 year saving up being a unique situation though - Please remember that many people in the US just simply are never able to afford vacations at all. You just will never meet them because they don’t travel to other countries.

Advice

If you save up 10 years for one trip, you’re not the average tourist. It could be argued that you still couldn’t really afford the trip. These people depend on tourism dollars to exist. Your particular economic hardships aren’t their concern. To them, if you can’t afford their consideration, service, and attention, you don’t belong there.

Advice

Who are you speaking for? Are you a Jamaican or resident of Jamaica? Just curious who’s perspective you are trying to represent and what your source is. Also curious what constitutes the average traveller. I guess those 12 years I spent in Hospitality taught me nothing…

Advice

They do have a point- it’s almost like going out to eat but not having enough money to tip your server. Yes, there are people in your shoes who save up and take that once in a lifetime trip. Hell my parents are those people- they never honeymooned or flew anywhere. But they went to Jamaica on their 30th wedding anniversary. You (and they) are not the average tourist from America.

Advice

Pay got way worse there since the pandemic. They have no social safety net, so when the lockdowns hit in 2020, almost everyone who worked in tourism lost their job. When tourists started trickling back in, my friends got rehired but for even less money.

One of my friends is a driver for a transport and tour company. He was offered a job at three companies last year, none of them paid more than $60 a week!! He’s expected to get the rest from tips except almost no one tips (or they give him a couple bucks).

He was also told not to ask for tips but he quickly abandoned that rule when he realized how few people even gave him a second thought no matter how friendly and helpful he was.

I met him when he drove my group of friends around years ago, so I know he’s really hardworking, friendly, helpful and funny.

Cost of living is less there, but even there $60 a week is not enough to survive. So it’s easy to see how they think any tourist who can afford a vacation at all must be rich.

Advice

As a Jamaican who lives within several of Jamaica’s hotspots and has worked in the tourism industry, except for the beggars probably on the streets We Don’t Think Y’all Have Money. Quite frankly we think and know a lot of y’all are broke who probably used your credit cards to book the trip, saved everlastingly or won a trip. The tourist we do think have money are the ones who book the high end places that aren’t all inclusive. We know who may or may not have a pocket based on the resort they book as well. What we have a problem with is when these Americans visits and have a dirty entitled attitude; oftentimes this isn’t coming from America’s white population either. Also we get very annoyed when Americans visit thinking oh Jamaica is a ‘third world’ country and it’s citizens have nothing. Believe me a lot of our citizens lives way better than some Americans. Also, Americans really need to educate themselves as you still have people who believe us Jamaicans don’t have access to running water, food, internet and that we live in huts; that pisses us off. Don’t come here thinking oh we are poor and need your tips because we’ll take it, smile with you and cuss you out. Don’t patronize us. I’ll end here, we have no problem with tourist as we welcome you, we have a problem with the exploiting investors and our government.

Advice

From personal experience, Jamaicans seem to favor tourists highly and treat them well. Im jamaican btw. There are tourist deaths from robberies but those are few and far between it seems. I imagine that since our leaders have allowed the country to be so dependent on tourism, there is a culture of “big money tourist” comin down to help poor little jamaica so they try to stay in their favour to “get a money”.

We also have a lot of families who migrated to the typical jamaican dyasporia such as Canada England and America so we tend to favour them over a tourist from say Korea or somethin like that. They love tjem all but the ones from the dyasporias are pretty loved Id say.

Advice

It’s no secret, not only in Jamaica, but across the world, and you guys wear it proudly, Americans are the worst especially when vacationing. They’re loud, rude and complain alot. The worst guests are firstly, Jamaicans secondly, black Americans & thirdly white Americans/white foreigners. I’ve heard many a horror story about tourists telling lies on hotel staff when it comes to items missing from their rooms. Other times, they see that you’re trying to have a good time, and in giving you value for your dollar, there’s a hint hint, and a wink wink, and a nod nod, every verbal/nonverbal confirmation, to keep the vibe going, back in their room, for the “no pants dance” only to be accused of raping someone’s daughter, or being asked to be apart of some lecherous, hedonistic, debaucherous act only to be outed as “the other guy/girl” or “homewrecker” or “rent-a-dread” [YOU are the reason why we have nude beaches!]. Or in other instances, the most popular, YOU make a friend in Jamaica to ensure consistent service when you come back on your next trip and/or THEY make an American friend, which they, in turn, end up f******/marrying for a green card. Serving you guys is a hellish nightmare because of your notoriously bad behavior but our bosses, and supervisors, and essentially the Jamaican government, tells us to bear with it because you bring in the revenue. Are all of you like this? No. I don’t think so, but generally that’s the experience. It’s usually a mixed bag but when you guys are ready, you’ll have your Karen and Kevin moments. Sometimes I wonder . . . if you guys are inherently racist, or have a penchant for racism, why do you come to vacation in a country, filled with people that you have racial sentiments against or about? Another question is why Jamaica? You could vacation literally anywhere else in the Caribbean, in the world over, with more luxurious, extravagant, breathtaking sceneries, amenities, hotels, eateries etc., I mean we have a high murder rate so. . . why? And you’d better have more than bob Marley and Usain Bolt to tell me about. Jamaica is becoming more westernized and that’s a given considering we traded British for American but tell me something that you can only get in Jamaica. Also KFC, Burger King, Popeyes, Dominoes, Pizza hut and anyone of your other brands that I missed ARE THE SAME! They never added anything even remotely Jamaican onto their menus but you insist on coming here to eat the same fast food you left behind!? If I ever ask you for anything, it would be to PLEASE EAT THE JAMAICAN FOOD. When you leave Burger King in your country to come and eat Burger King in our country [sigh] I fail to see the the trade up or the logic behind it (I mean other than going with what’s in your budget, going with what you know, and maybe, Jamaican food just goes right through you). There’s literally no Jamaican infused/inspired item on the menu. Back on topic. Our government has been bumbling around for years as to whether they want to serve the one with the pounds or the one with the dollars, but you best believe that when it comes to you guys, the government rolls over and a lot of money that would have been constantly, hotly debated in parliament is suddenly available for use and rather quickly too. Anywhere that YOU guys frequent, or happen to be in or around, if it’s crime, there’ll be police presence at the drop of a hat, if it’s bad roads, it’ll be fixed in no time, if it’s utilities- light, water, gas - poor service at any business place, harassment etc. it is handled with the utmost expedience. Now don’t think that I’m narrowminded in me saying that; of course, the security of any foreigner, in any country that’s not their own, is to be treated with the highest priority, however, people in this country have been campaigning, writing, reporting, petitioning, waiting patiently with bated breath, for years!, for changes to be made to make their communities safer, to make their roads more traversable, to have their utility issues resolved, to have any crimes or harassment handled with some sort of expedie- care and understanding but (snaps fingers) it’s done lickity split for you guys. Case in point, when Portia Simpson Miller was the prime minister, and the then former president, Barack Obama, was scheduled to visit the island, money that had been hotly debated in parliament, for months, about its use, and whether or not it was or wasn’t available, or would be available, for any usage, was suddenly now available, and being used to pave the road for the US president to traverse, only for it to be revealed that he wouldn’t have time, or rather, didn’t have plans to. Night and day was spent to make sure that road was paved; biggest road works project executed on such a scale and in such a short amount of time; a national embarrassment. What I’m saying is that, when you guys come around, the government is almost seemingly forced into action to do the things that they were supposed to do; make the country better. But that better has resulted in a lot of gentrification of a lot of communities. Right now the government anticipates that there will be an influx of foreigners who want to live and stay here, but they won’t be staying, shoulder to shoulder, with locals in their communities, no, no, no . . .they’ll be staying in a housing scheme, carved out, in these communities; so you will always be one “wall-off” from the real Jamaica. A lot of land that used to sit idle is now being plotted for more tourist attractions and housing schemes that ultimately the average Jamaican can never afford. LoL Jamaicans love a lot of things but they don’t love coffee enough to walk into a Starbucks that recently opened nearby where I live, to be indulging in macchiatos and frappuccinos so . . . who’s that for? YOU GUYS! What I will go further to say though is that these hotels, they’re not run properly, so a lot of them have been petitioned, and campaigned, and written about, and reported about, with regards to better working conditions, better salary etc., but a lot of those times, those concerns are ignored primarily because the owners of the hotel are not Jamaican and they don’t speak the language and essentially, they operate like call centers; you fleece the work out to small countries taking advantage of the cheap labour costs, or in this case, build a massive beachside resort and pay the staff peanuts. The other side of the issue is there are Jamaicans who are in manager or supervisory positions, and are close to the owners - like in having regular meetings with the owners - but they have no vested interest in campaigning or petitioning on behalf of their fellow Jamaicans for better working conditions and pay; Jamaicans stop other Jamaicans. I do give them the benefit of the doubt that they probably have tried but have been told some version of, nice, emptily worded “NO” but because, for years, at these hotels, nothing has been done, you ultimately find that you have to be a part of a clique; you have to curry favor with managers & supervisors so they can guarantee you a salary that you’re comfortable with. Some have to f*** for it, some work for it, some play hardball because they know they’re worth it and others just accept what they’ve been given. You’re often told not to come in and try to change the system, or anything that you see there, or have a problem with - you just come in and fall in line. The average salary of a hotel worker ranges from $200 to 300 US dollars a month and that’s IF they get paid on time because most hotels have a problem with paying their employees on time due to adhoc and incompetent staffing, or rather, high turnover rate; if you search for it you’ll find many instances where employees have gone weeks, and months, without pay, to the point of having to protest working conditions. I can’t speak to the 90-minute trek just to get to work (maybe that’s counting all the hours that they have to get up out of their beds and get dressed, walk to the nearest bus stop or main road to get a drive that takes them to another stop, which then takes them to work, in order to get there on time but because there was no thought taken to sound city planning, or community planning, poorly built/maintained road structure and network etc., that a simple shower of rain today results in landslides and floodings or a small event results in a traffic pileup- making the trek to work even longer or impossible) but some people have it harder than some. Again it just feeds right back into what I was saying before, to work in a hotel is like the best job you could ever get, so if you live in a deeper rural community applied and got through if it takes 90 minutes to get to work, you will do it because you will never do any better than hotel work. So if you lose your jewelry at sea, if someone can find it for you that’s great but if searching for it they still can’t find it consider it a loss, but rest assured there’s a guy, who knows a guy, who scours the ocean floor, finds it, and pawns it, or wears it [all depends on if they’re that vain or they work for the hotel]

Advice

> Sometimes I wonder . . . if you guys are inherently racist, or have a penchant for racism, why do you come to vacation in a country, filled with people that you have racial sentiments against or about?

That’s exactly why. I’m Canadian but recently was invited on vacation by my fiancé’s (white) relatives from Texas. There’s something really disturbing about their expectation to be served by black people. We won’t be going on vacation with them again.

Advice

Most Jamaicans don’t have any problems with tourist from north of the Americas,it’s the corrupt system in Jamaica that is allowing servitude jobs in Jamaica. During the 70s and 80s the Jamaican economy was flexible in terms of the economy had multiple factories that built all types of everyday products which is similar to the American Midwest that had a lot of factories, but during the 90s a different administration took over Jamaica and implemented policies that made life difficult for the average Jamaican. For one they made it difficult for the average “black n brown” Jamaican to get a business loan and whenever they got the loan they suddenly hike up the interest rates to make it difficult to pay off the loan and in return they took away their business and house from them. Now we have a weak economy with no middle class and the only jobs the Jamaican government is providing is servitude jobs with low pay and no benefits. Essentially a indentured slavery modern day plantation jobs.

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