Master of Arts (MA)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



This thesis addresses the recent development of tourism on Utila, the westernmost island of the Bay Islands of Caribbean, Honduras. Especially during the 1990s, international tourists, mostly Europeans and North Americans, were attracted to the island because it was a relatively inexpensive place to dive on a beautiful fringing reef and to enjoy other benefits of a tropical beach community. Larger nearby islands, Roatán and Guanaja, had developed something of a tourism industry earlier. A review of the economic and culture history of Utila reveals that modern islanders -- English-speaking Anglo- and Afro-Caribbeans originally from the Cayman Islands were preadapted for international tourism. Previously, they had interacted with the international community through the fruit trade and merchant sailing. Returning islanders enjoyed a "laid back" lifestyle which was also appealing to tourists. Because Utila has been a relatively cheap spot for tourists, it first attracted a "backpacker" type and when Europeans seeking cheap diving and drugs discovered the island, its reputation as a preferred destination attracted this lower level of the tourist types. As the tourism industry matured, interest in up-scale faculties has increased and a few small resorts have been constructed. At the moment, construction of an international airport, access roads to resort areas, and other large scale alterations of the landscape are locally severe and might be expected to seriously affect the island's environmental stability. Another source of significant environmental and culture change are the Spanish-speaking Hondurans from the mainland, who have been attracted to Utila by the island's reputation as a place of developing tourism and economic prosperity.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

W. V. Davidson