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Barbados: Linking development, indigenous entrepreneurship and Tourism PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joachim Willms [Managing Director]   
Linking development, indigenous entrepreneurship and Tourism,
with special reference to Barbados


Jackie Neblett

Milford B. Green
Department of Geography
Social Science Center
University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada
N6A 5C2

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Tourism had developed as the leading economic sector of many developing peripheral regions. The economic/development benefits that are derived from this economic activity are not typically widely realized in these regions. Indeed, the structure/organization of Third World tourism, based largely on a core-periphery dependency, tends to render tourism a very questionable development strategy as substantial portions of the economic benefits remain in the metropolitan core or are often repatriated. It is commonly acknowledged that entrepreneurship is a key element in the development process. Greater substantive indigenous entrepreneurship in the tourism industry is likely to bring about more widely dispersed economic benefits, as well as other development benefits such as greater self-reliance, self-confidence, and an increased sense of well-being.

Keywords: development, indigenous entrepreneurship, tourism, Barbados, Caribbean


Tourism has developed as the leading economic sector of many developing peripheral regions. Indeed, Third World tourism historically has been touted as providing benefits, such as the accumulation of foreign exchange earnings, employment, and backward linkages for domestic and regional diversification to the peripheral destination. However, the structure or organization of Third World tourism reinforces core- periphery dependency on, and vulnerability to, developed countries due to the commercial power held by foreign enterprises.

Multinational corporations, through superior entrepreneurial skills, established networks and advanced technological facilities, dominate and control much of the Third World tourism industry. This dominance has been identified as a strong factor which undermines the development potential of peripheral developing tourism regions (Ascher, 1985; Britton, 1982; Jenkins and Henry, 1982; Matthews, 1978). In short, the organization of the industry tends to render it a very questionable development strategy (Adams, 1977; Britton, 1980; Bryden, 1973; Hiller, 1975; Matthews, 1978; Middleton, 1977; Perez, 1980). Nonetheless, in the Caribbean in particular, tourism's potential linkage effects renders the tourism industry a viable economic development strategy (CTRC, 1988).


Historically, the concept of development has been expressed with a primarily economic focus (Schumpter, 1936; Myrdal, 1959; Hirschman, 1958; Brookfield, 1975), and more recently acknowledging social considerations (Todaro, 1981), and environmental concerns (WCED, 1987). Todaro (1981), captured the spirit of development when he suggested that the inner meaning of development is best understood in terms of core values such as life-sustenance, self-esteem, and freedom. He further suggested that development:

. . . must represent the entire gamut of change by which an entire social system, tuned to the diverse basic needs and desires of individuals and social groups within that system, moves away from a condition of life widely perceived as unsatisfactory and toward a situation or condition of life regarded as materially and spiritually "better"(Todaro, 1981:70).

Implied within Todaro's definition is the notion of quality or balanced growth. Within a tourism context, development or quality growth is achieved when there is balance among economic, social/cultural and environmental elements (Mark, 1975).

Entrepreneurial participation in the tourism industry has the potential for providing greater benefits to the local population. Indeed, local entrepreneurial involvement in the tourism industry, both in the formal and informal sectors, is pertinent to development as defined by balanced or quality growth for the local population that comes about as a result of greater economic wealth, as well as greater self-reliance, self-confidence, and an increased sense of well-being.


Entrepreneurship, not unlike development, has proved to be a difficult term to define. Hailey (1992:6) concluded that attempts to define entrepreneurship tend to take on the academic bias of the author. For instance, economists emphasize the entrepreneurs' ability to act as agents of change through innovation and risk-taking, while psychologists consider the "motivation and behavioural attitudes of potential entrepreneurs" (ibid.).

Schumpeter (1936), whose work on economic development is widely referred to, and who is best known for linking innovation and the entrepreneur, stated that entrepreneurs carry out new economic combinations by introducing new products and new production functions, opening new markets, and by reorganizing an industry. According to Nafziger (1990), Schumpeter's concept of the entrepreneur is somewhat limited in a developing country context. He suggests that the majority of the Schumpeterian entrepreneurs in developing countries can be characterised by an ability to open new markets rather than by the development of entirely new combinations due to the high technical transfers which tend to limit/negate such entrepreneurial activity.

Chowdhury's definition explicitly identifies the entrepreneur irrespective of his/her cultural environment. For Chowdhury (1989:3),

An entrepreneur, as applied to business, is he/she who can create a new venture, exist profitably, excel (i.e., can make profit with maximum possible customer satisfaction) and grow horizontally or vertically- for which he/she may have to take certain amount of risk and may have to undertake any or all of the innovative activities as mentioned by Schumpeter.

Bull, et al. (1995:2) suggest that there is an obsession amongst scholars to define the word "entrepreneur." Indeed, the preoccupation with establishing a definition of entrepreneurship, as well as the "lack of precision in the definition of an entrepreneur may contribute to the lack of robust entrepreneurship models" (ibid.). Such efforts, they argue, have "misdirected research efforts away from a useful theory of entrepreneurship" (ibid.:4) and further suggested that the Schumpterian definition is acceptably precise, adequately descriptive and discriminating. Redefinitions, they suggested, "merely rephrase the Schumpeterian definition" (ibid.).

Typically, some definitions of an entrepreneur are ethnocentric and tend not to necessarily reflect the qualities of entrepreneurs in developing and underdeveloped countries. According to Hailey (1992), an appropriate definition for entrepreneurship in developing countries should not be rooted in the values and attitudes of developed, industrialized societies which are often incompatible with the social fabric of many indigenous societies. In recognizing the peculiarities of developing countries, Hailey (1992:7) suggested that an indigenous entrepreneur is:

. . . an indigen person who shows practical creativity and managerial ability in effectively combining resources and opportunities in an effort to provide produce, goods and services appropriate to the needs of the local community, and at the same time generating sufficient income to help both themselves, their family and the community in general.

This definition necessarily includes the entrepreneurial activities of the informal sector and the largely micro-scale nature of entrepreneurship in developing countries. Unmistakably, development in developing countries is contextually unique.

The Relationship between Entrepreneurship and Development

The role of entrepreneurship in development is covered exhaustively in the development literature (Schumpeter, 1936; McClelland, 1961; Baumol, 1968; Leibenstein, 1968; Ronen, 1982; Nafziger, 1990). Entrepreneurship, a dominant form of economic activity in developing countries, is a significant variable in the development process. Entrepreneurship in developing countries, both in the formal and informal sectors, is fundamental to creating employment, increasing production and raising standards of living (Hailey, 1992; Kilby, 1988). Other contributions entrepreneurs make to the development process in the Third World include restructuring and diversifying the economy; reducing the concentration of economic power through a wider dispersal of industry ownership; reducing market inefficiencies by making the marketplace more dynamic and competitive; improving the social welfare of a country by harnessing dormant, previously overlooked talent; and creating new markets (Ray,1988 in Echtner, 1995:123).

Entrepreneurship is not benign business management or venture capital; rather, it lies in directing resources (financial and physical) in new ways for the generation of profit (Elliot, 1983; Chowdhury, 1989).

Entrepreneurship has not been a prominent area in tourism research. Some case-specific work on indigenous participation has been done on the Solomon Islands and Fiji (Bani, 1989; Kuve, 1989; Swailu, 1989), and in the Caribbean (Lundgren, 1973, 1975).

Within the Caribbean, entrepreneurship can be better understood when placed in economic, political, and social contexts. Gaining an understanding of entrepreneurs and their activities has important implications for policymaking sectorally and nationally, particularly as entrepreneurs continue to aid the development process by employing both human and physical resources in increasingly valuable ways. The Barbados is emphasized in this study of the relationship between entrepreneurism and tourism, with an emphasis on the pivotal accommodation sector. An examination of how this dynamic plays out in the real world provides support for the previous discussions.

The Barbados: An Example of Entrepreneurship in the Caribbean

Barbados is a particularly apt example nation for consideration in examining the role of entrepreneurship in the tourism sector. Among the nations of the Caribbean, Barbados is one of the most developed economically and socially. Barbados ranked 30th on the UN Human Development Index in 2000 and has a literacy rate of 97%. Incomes are also high by world standards with an adjusted GDP per capita of $12000 in purchasing power parity terms (UN, 2000:157). The basic personal conditions for entrepreneurship are evident and any difficulties experienced in Barbados would likely be more severe in other Caribbean nations. In many ways Barbados is a best-case scenario.

Generally, within the Caribbean, a history of slavery, colonialism and metropole domination has created structural dynamics within the societies which mold the economic, social, and political reality of the region. Stewart observed that:

The Caribbean is the oldest and most intensely penetrated part of the periphery and in its history one can discern and map the maturity of the capitalist historical system: from the crude and violent stage when the indigenous peoples were exterminated and wealth stolen and transferred to Europe; to the more organized control of the colonial system and the development of an international division of labour, accompanied by the explicit hegemony of European culture; and now to the more subtle forms of control in the post-colonial period, executed by the elites of post-colonial societies who have internalized the dominating ideology and culture of the metropole (Stewart, 1994:4).

In Barbados, the entrepreneurial environment mirrors a hegemony of planter class domination as a legacy of economic domination by foreign and local whites continues within many sectors in the economy, such as manufacturing, commercial, agribusiness, and others. In 1989, for instance, Hilary Beckles wrote that "the commanding heights of the corporate economy are controlled and manipulated by merchants and executives drawn from a white community that comprises less than five percent of the total population" (1989:19). George Lamming (in Ryan, 1992:72) noted that a "geriatric white economic elite", continues to control the economy and effectively block the emergence of a vibrant black entrepreneurial class, in spite of the presence of black political leadership. He further noted that black politicians have been unable or unwilling to remove the proverbial "road block" as represented by the white economic elites.

Historically, the white economic elite in Barbados tended toward undermining the efforts of blacks in business by engaging in activities such as passing legislation to restrict small-scale informal economic activity (Downes, 1988:51) and fixing prices and over charging for goods, "thus driving many black businesses out of operation" (ibid.:55).

Current exclusionary practices which undermine black entrepreneurship appear to be primarily in regards to gaining access to capital for business start-up and expansion. Chaderton (1993) examined the reasons for the failure of Barbadian business in the 1980s and reviewed the lending habits of lending institutions on the island of Barbados. She noted that commercial banks, many of them foreign-owned, had banking philosophies and credit policies which were rigid and unsympathetic to the social needs of the local society, unlike the indigenous banks which were a "little more responsible". Chaderton further noted that "the banks have been attributed with an unduly high proportion of blame by the businesses that were liquidated" (1993:9).

Generally, governments of the Caribbean, in recognition of some of the factors which impede entrepreneurial efforts, have acknowledged that policies and programs are necessary to encourage entrepreneurship in the wider population.

Structural Adjustment Policies

Entrepreneurship is an important variable in development. Indeed, the need to develop local entrepreneurial talent in developing regions is well-documented (OAS, 1984; Nabi, 1988; Poon, 1990). In fact, this is one of the policy recommendations of studies for government (OAS, 1984; ILO, 1987; UN, 1990; Eigen, 1992). An early example of a Caribbean government's attempt to develop local entrepreneurship may be found in Trinidad and Tobago. In the early 1970s, policies and structures were put in place to increase entrepreneurship, particularly amongst Afro-Trinidadians, by the then ruling political party, the People's National Movement (PNM). Prior to this time, foreign companies, descendants of the white planters, the merchant classes, as well as Indians, Chinese, and Syrians controlled most of the economic trade in Trinidad and Tobago. People of African descent dominated the public sector (Ryan and Barclay, 1992:xii). In effect, the PNM set out to shift the focus from a salaried state or private sector employment to ownership of business, ostensibly by supporting a people's sector and a national private sector. Thus, some of the structures established to provide financial, managerial and other services to the nascent black entrepreneurial class included, two banks (Workers' Bank and the National Commercial Bank), the Industrial Development Corporation, the Development Finance Corporation, the Management Development Centre, and the Agricultural Development Bank (Ryan, 1992:56).

According to Ryan (1992), there was a measure of success in the seventies as quite a few blacks made significant breakthroughs in areas such as the merchandise retail sector, in the service sector, in the professions, janitorial services, valuation, and small supermarkets. However, not unlike many other firms, "only a few companies belonging to the new black entrepreneur group survived the drastic downturn in economic activity that characterised the mid-nineteen eighties" (ibid.:56).

In 1985, the Heads of Government in the Caribbean, in an effort to create a developed and largely self-reliant region, agreed that the encouragement of entrepreneurship in the agricultural, manufacturing, and service sectors was critical. The strengthening of local and regional management skills, technology and entrepreneurship in all the sectors was identified as an important part of the strategy for economic revitalisation. In recognizing the government's role in developing higher levels of entrepreneurship at small, medium, and large-scale levels, there was general consensus that government must, among other things,

  • provide adequate infrastructure and other supporting services;
  • undertake programs (most of them involving heavy government expenditure in areas such as Education and Training) to improve the quality of human capital . . . ; and
  • ensure the adequate mobilisation and availability of venture capital, especially equity capital (CARICOM Secretariat, 1985).
However, a number of queries have been raised in regards to policies which would encourage and develop entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. Nabi (1988), for instance, questioned whether government can indeed use policy to actively encourage the development of entrepreneurs or whether entrepreneurship should simply be encouraged through policies that avoid placing excessive restrictions on them.

The extent to which support structures have enabled black entrepreneurship in the Caribbean, in the long term, is unclear. It would appear, however, that the mere presence of institutional support does not guarantee success in developing entrepreneurship. Barclay (1992) noted that the results of a survey conducted through the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) in Trinidad on black micro-entrepreneurs showed that few utilised the services of development institutions.

Notwithstanding the larger Caribbean experience, structural adjustment policies directed specifically at the tourism industry may aid in the development and encouragement of indigenous entrepreneurship. The relationship between tourism, development, and indigenous entrepreneurship has been (peripherally) addressed in the tourism literature, and to a lesser extent in tourism development theories.

Indigenous Entrepreneurship and Tourism

The tourism literature, using a core-periphery paradigm, indicates that the organization of international tourism creates a dominant and dependent relationship between the metropolitan economy and the periphery economy (Britton, 1982; Erisman, 1983; Culpan, 1987). The extent to which indigenous entrepreneurial activity is considered within the dependency paradigm tends to be limited to a shopping list of business activities at the destination.

Culpan (1987) produced an international tourism model for developing economies in which he identified the peripheral sector as being involved in food and drink, souvenirs, services, etc. Britton (1982) also considered the international tourism economy and discussed the differences in the range of entrepreneurial sophistication between core and peripheral tourism areas internationally and nationally. He noted that the organization of mass tourism favours high initial investment costs and thus a dependency of foreign capital, thereby rendering local entrepreneurial involvement largely peripheral in function. In delineating the entrepreneurial activities within the periphery [sic] economy Britton referred to the local and economic elites (the formal and dominant sector) as being able to coordinate, construct, operate, and profit from the industry.

The informal sector, on the other hand, is marginal to, and dependent on the dominant sector. Although both Culpan (1987) and Britton (1982) acknowledged the presence of indigenous entrepreneurial activity at the destination and the role of such activity in international tourism, the nature, scope and pattern of this activity were given very little attention.

For Hailey (1992:7), indigenous entrepreneurship is an integral part of balanced development, not only because such participation is fundamental for promoting economic growth, but also because indigenous entrepreneurs help generate confidence in indigenous activities and a climate of greater self-reliance.

In one of the earliest works on local entrepreneurial response to the tourist industry. Lundgren (1973) considered tourism entrepreneurship in the Caribbean and found that hotel-generated demands were met by various economic sectors, particularly the food-supplying sector. He noted that while the potential for entrepreneurial interaction (demand/supply linkages) would most likely be greater at an early stage in the development of the supply sector, the possibilities for such linkages with local entrepreneurs are reduced by their ability to meet supply demands locally. Two years later Lundgren (1975) noted that there was considerable entrepreneurial interaction in Jamaica's North Coast as a result of multiplier generated backward and forward linkages at work in that tourist industry. He identified two groups of participating entrepreneurs involved in inter-sectoral transactions as the hotel industry entrepreneur, and the supplier entrepreneur which include the supplier producer and the production-higgler. Lundgren's (1975) work stands out in the tourism literature because it is one the earliest pieces of work that emphasized the informal sub-economies as well as informal activities.

Poon (1993), using the Schumpeterian approach, considered the Caribbean tourist industry, particularly all-inclusive properties, and found that superior performance in the industry was related to the quality and innovativeness of managerial personnel rather than ownership or foreign presence. Indeed, she suggested/recommended that flexible specialization, a strategy of permanent innovation associated with synergies, systems gains and scope economies, be applied to Caribbean tourism (ibid.). Given the nature and realities of indigenous tourism entrepreneurs in the Caribbean, Poon's (1993) concept of flexible specialization may only have immediate application in the formal sector where similar types of arrangements already exist. However, access to capital and adequacy of training, preconditions for flexible specialization, seem to be immediate challenges for indigenous tourism entrepreneurship in the peripheral sector.

Furthermore, Poon has failed to consider the class structure of the Caribbean society and how such socio-economic and class legacies are mirrored in the tourism landscape and are indeed evident in the disparities in entrepreneurial acumen and competency. Mandle (1982) suggested that the class structure of the society, in addition to the historical experiences of the people, influence the society's ability and desire to be innovative.

Although much of the tourism literature is devoid of explicit analyses of indigenous entrepreneurs, the entrepreneurial function is implied in some of the tourism development models (Butler, 1980), as well as in some of the work that has been done on developing regions (Lundgren, 1973, 1975; Britton, 1980a; Culpan, 1987), particularly on the informal sector (Wahnschafft, 1982; Crick, 1992; Kermath and Thomas, 1992; Oppermann, 1993; Sofield, 1993).

Tourism development theories that have implicitly addressed the local entrepreneurial function in Third World tourism may be categorized as development stage theory (Butler, 1980), diffusion theory (Bryden, 1973), and dependency theory (Britton, 1980a, 1980b, 1982). Butler (1980), in considering the stages of development of the tourist destination suggested that locals tend to have entrepreneurial involvement in the tourist industry at the exploration, involvement, and decline stages of the tourism area cycle. The general pattern of local involvement is characterised by a small number of local individuals being involved in the provision of limited services to visitors which were initially provided for locals during the exploration stage. Local entrepreneurial activity increases during the involvement stage when new facilities are provided or existing facilities converted. And finally, local involvement tends to peak again in the decline stage when foreign investment exits.

Generally, routes to entrepreneurship are to a large extent influenced by access to capital and occupational and/or educational experiences (Williams, Shaw, and Greenwood, 1989), as well as exposure to business. The impact of past history and present politics may also play a significant role in indigenous entrepreneurship in the developing world (Hailey, 1992). Entrepreneurs also frequently come from "groups which have fairly extended families who are often engaged in trade" or are indeed "disproportionately recruited from elements of the population that in some sense or other are looked upon as 'outsiders'" (Leibenstein, 1968:81). Leibenstein explained that "outsiders" are generally restricted from economic opportunities, therefore for them the opportunity costs as entrepreneurs are lower than that of "insiders" (ibid.).

The extent, level, and pattern of indigenous tourism entrepreneurial involvement in destination areas have been influenced by historical, developmental, and social factors. For instance, a destination having a legacy of colonialism may exhibit an indigenous entrepreneurial pattern unlike that of other Third World destinations. Sofield (1993:729), in considering indigenous tourism development in South Pacific countries noted that:

. . . the legacy [of colonialism], may . . . place a series of formidable obstacles in the path of indigenous communities and individuals attempting to participate in various forms of development, despite post-independence policies and schemes designed for just such participation.

The legacy of colonialism has influenced the nature of entrepreneurial involvement in some Caribbean tourism destinations. For example, in Barbados and Antigua (Butler, 1992), a non-indigenous, but local people, originally from the planter class and who have since become involved in commercial ventures, are typically the individuals who become entrepreneurially involved in the tourist industry in the early stages (involvement) of the cycle. This political and economic elite group may represent local involvement in the industry, but their role in the process of development is unlike that of the indigenous entrepreneur since they tend to have a non-local focus as is witnessed by their off-shore banking practices.

An exception to the nature and pattern of local entrepreneurship as described in the tourism development cycle model may be found in the Cayman Islands (Weaver, 1990). In the Cayman Islands local involvement did not conform to the model as described, instead there was very little local participation in the early phases of the involvement stage and increased participation during the development stage. The lack of local capital and entrepreneurs at the early stages of tourism development in the Caymans was attributed to the absence of a plantation agriculture system as well as a dependency status (Butler, 1992).

Within the development stage tourism paradigm, local involvement within developing destinations would appear to be confined to the activities of the formal sector. Indigenous entrepreneurship is particularly evident in the ancillary services that support the tourism industry. For instance, Sobers (1997), Director of Research and Statistics at the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), noted that "Tourism in Barbados is being led by the ancillary sector which is more vibrant." Other authors have observed the important role of ancillary services in the development of indigenous tourism entrepreneurship (Holder, 1993; Poon, 1988, 1990, 1993). Indeed, Holder (1993:214) noted that "These are the services that provide the easiest entry into the tourism industry for indigenous entrepreneurs."

Given the nature of developing country economies, informal sector activities are part of the real world and should be seen more as a central part of their overall economies and as crucial to their functioning (Abel-Fadil, 1992).

Economic Dualism

Indigenous entrepreneurship and economic dualism have rarely been the focus of tourism research. Crick (1992), for instance, considered the role of the informal tourism sector in a Sri Lankan village and concluded that although international tourism creates many essentially demeaning roles, particularly for the poor, the sporadic income received is critical for their survival.

Kermath and Thomas (1992) in their examination of the spatial dynamics of formal and informal sector development within the resort of Sousa, Dominican Republic, found that the expansion of the tourism-related formal sector resulted in the subsequent contraction of the tourism-related informal sector. Moreover, the displaced group was not absorbed by the expanding formal sector.

Some other authors have indirectly considered the activities of the informal sector in developing peripheral regions, particularly by examining the colonial context within which tourism exists (Britton, 1982; Culpan, 1987). Britton (1982), in examining the South Pacific region, concluded that petty artisans in the periphery economy will receive far less of the profits from the system due to the dynamics and hierarchical structure of international tourism.

Students of economic development generally regard informal sector activity as the training ground for small- and medium-scale entrepreneurs. According to an OAS report (1984), not only do the small businesses in the tourism sector provide indirect employment but they also serve a very useful development role in helping to direct and promote the entrepreneurial drives of the local population, thus fostering the growth of a management and entrepreneurial class. It is noteworthy, however, that an UN document (1990) indicated that most informal activities do not graduate into formal businesses because of lack of management skills, technical support and the necessary financial resources.

Tourism in developing peripheral countries can potentially create economic opportunities for the growth of effective indigenous entrepreneurial activity. An understanding of the present entrepreneurs and their activities, facilitated by a classification or typology of them, may indicate how tourism can bring about greater local benefits and development.


It has been established that entrepreneurship is a critical component in the development process and is one valid approach to developing human capital, encouraging self-reliance, and creating a sense of well-being in the indigenous population. If indigenous entrepreneurship is to assist development, then it ought to be a vibrant activity whereby new combinations are being achieved, and where new markets are explored, not just benign ownership/management that is overly dependent on the government.

Researchers have been seeking explanations as to why some people become entrepreneurs. Typical explanations include: (1) genetic inheritance, (2) religious values, (3) personality needs, (4) geographical climate, (5) status of group in community, and (6) family structure (Ryan, 1992:xiii). Such explanations, however, do not sufficiently address the peculiarities of colonial and post-colonial environments which invariably impacted on the propensity for some groups to develop entrepreneurially.

Tourism can facilitate the development of an entrepreneurial class. The participation of the local population in the tourism industry contributes to the balanced development of both the industry and the nation. Indeed, the future of the tourism industry in the Caribbean may depend on the development of a vibrant and innovative group of indigenous entrepreneurs who will be able to effectively respond to the opportunities and challenges of the industry. Perhaps Poon (1990:119) stated it best when she suggested that the future emphasis of Caribbean tourism "must be placed upon cultivating a cadre of Caribbeans who seriously control their own destiny." However, the necessary conditions must be present.

Bull et al. (1995:7), following the Schumpeterian definition, proposed that entrepreneurship will occur when the following conditions are present:

  • task-related motivation (some vision or sense of social value embedded in the basic task itself that motivates the initiator to act);
  • expertise (present know-how plus confidence to be able to obtain know-how needed in the future);
  • expectation of gain for self (economic and/or psychic benefits); and
  • a supportive environment (conditions that either provide comfort and support to the new endeavour, or that reduce discomfort from a previous endeavour.
In the Caribbean, governments have attempted to develop local and regional entrepreneurship through programs and policies which generally provide education and training, as well as easier access to venture capital. Such programs have had varying success due to factors such as the indigenous entrepreneur's somewhat limited education and training, limiting attitudes and perceptions, as well as the government's questionable ability to implement and administer some programs.

Despite the Government's efforts to support indigenous entrepreneurship in the accommodation sector in Barbados, it is clear that these entrepreneurs, with some exceptions, particularly those with small-size accommodation units, are in trouble. Many are heavily indebted to the government and appear to be in jeopardy regarding their control over their circumstances. For instance, their properties are largely in a state of disrepair and because their revenues just cover their expenses there were no funds for repairs. Tennyson Beckles (1994), Chairman of the Barbados Development Bank (BDB), noted that the BDB had exhausted the conventional ways of rescheduling the debt of many small hotels and yet the hotels are not viable. The BDB therefore considered the reorganizing and re-engineering of these businesses.

The indigenous entrepreneurs in the accommodation sector are not a monolithic entity. Rather, they are diverse in their background, education and training, attitudes and perceptions. These factors impact on the level of involvement of the entrepreneurs in the sector and their willingness and ability regarding the appropriation of structural support. It is therefore incumbent upon policymakers and planners to understand the composition of the indigenous entrepreneurs for the creation of effective policies. Policies which would address the advancement of indigenous entrepreneurial development/involvement, promote the appropriate development of the tourism industry, as well as enshrine quality development for the population.

Neblett (1999) considered the indigenous entrepreneurs in the accommodation sector in Barbados and noted that not all of the indigenous entrepreneurs exhibited the necessary independent attitudes and behaviour that allow for entrepreneurial excellence. For example, while some entrepreneurs were decidedly opposed to government assistance, eighty-five percent of them felt they needed assistance, primarily the subsidization of operational costs through the reduction of taxes and utility rates, marketing for all hotels, and training for their employees.

Within the Barbadian context, there is a need, and now an opportunity, for prudent augmentation of indigenous entrepreneurship in the accommodation sector. Due to the current tourism density in this very limited geographical area (166 sq. miles), it is unwise to greatly increase the accommodation capacity, certainly in terms of accommodation units. It therefore makes development sense (economic, social/cultural, environmental) to consider the current tourist plant with the intent of encouraging new arrangements with current owners. Additionally, small properties which typically experience diseconomies of scale, will require new and innovative management and marketing approaches to compensate for, or perhaps to take advantage of, their small size.

One solution may rest with the younger generation of Barbadians. Some have exhibited entrepreneurial qualities in various endeavours in the formal and informal sectors, while others have latent abilities that, given the right environment, will come to the fore. However, not everyone who expresses a passing interest in entrepreneurship is an entrepreneur or has the qualities to become an entrepreneur. Moreover, appropriate tourism education and training are necessary prerequisites.

Echtner (1995) considered entrepreneurial training in developing countries and advocated a three-pronged approach to tourism education which would cultivate professional, vocational, and entrepreneurial skills. So, who should be trained? Clearly persons who are not risk averse and who are innovative (Echtner, 1995) are good candidates.

The government must also play a leading role by incorporating the concept of entrepreneurial development into its national tourism policy. It would also be prudent to promote and support entrepreneurial development through tailored long-term programs. Indeed, the efficacy of such assistance programs is largely reliant on, among other things,

  • the potential user's awareness of the programs;
  • easy and equitable access to that assistance;
  • an efficient and impartial evaluation process
  • post-assessment/evaluation of all facets of the program; and
  • the implementation of required adjustments.
It is therefore incumbent on the government to create "a formal tourism policy that would give direction and support for a more long-term view of the role of tourism in the economy" (Wilkinson 1997:162). Perhaps for Barbados, Baumol's (1968:69) suggestion is appropriate.

The first order of business in an economy which exhibits very little business drive is presumably to induce the appearance of increased supplies of entrepreneurial skills which would then be let loose upon the area's industry.

Within global, hemispheric, regional, and national contexts, indigenous entrepreneurship in the tourism industry will likely remain peripheral, and grossly overshadowed by transnational tourism corporations (TNCs), barring new combinations are introduced which specifically account for all of the germane elements of indigenous entrepreneurship. Given the nature and scope of indigenous entrepreneurship in many peripheral destinations, as well as the particular needs of developing countries, it is doubtful that the mimicry or blind application of modes/models of production and distribution used by TNC's would yield developmentally useful (economic, social/cultural, environmental) results.


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