An Instagram post from V2 Volunteers gave me pause:

“The slogan “Jamaica, no problem” is one of the most popular slogans associated with selling Jamaica as a tourist destination.

The tourism model used to promote Jamaica creates the idea of Jamaicans as experts in taking care of tourists and uniquely skilled in the area of service.

These ideas and images of Jamaicans date back to colonialism. Jamaicans were painted as poor, dependent, childlike, but happy to serve. However, these ideas are reinforced by Jamaica’s own practices and projection of its people to the world. In the nation’s own marketing campaigns, Jamaican people, specifically black Jamaican people, are presented as ‘others’ from a distant paradise who are there to serve and service white foreigners. In essence, Jamaica’s official image supports racist and colonial discourses that present Jamaicans as exotic black people who excel in the service industry.”

Tourism is often touted as a panacea for all of Jamaica’s woes. Locally owned resorts like Sandals create jobs and grow the economy in a way that foreign owned cruise ships and all-inclusive hotels do not. But what does it say when a nation’s tourism strategy is built on a message like this? Where does ‘service culture’ end and ‘servitude culture’ begin?