Tourism in Tortola, British Virgin Islands


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Tourism in Tortola, British Virgin Islands perceptions toward land carrying capacity
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ix, 282 leaves : ill., maps ; 28 cm.
Howell, Christopher David Broom, 1947-
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Subjects / Keywords:
Tourism -- British Virgin Islands -- Tortola   ( lcsh )
Land use -- British Virgin Islands -- Tortola   ( lcsh )
Tortola, Virgin Islands (Presidency)   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis--University of Florida.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 264-281).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Christopher David Broom Howell.
General Note:
General Note:

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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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oclc - 04536013
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Full Text





Copyright 1978

Christopher David Broom Howell

To the people of Tortola.


I was particularly fortunate in having a supervisory committee whose

expertise and guidance were so complementary. First and foremost, I wish

to express my deep gratitude to my committee chairman, Professor David

L. Niddrie, whose dedicated scholarship was invaluable in both the

initiation and implementation of the research, and whose personal per-

severance was directly responsible for its completion. I could not have

wished for a more capable nor committed chairman.

To Professor Crist, I wish to extend my appreciation for providing

insights into the Caribbean that can be culled only from a life-time of

masterly research and penetrating wisdom. As a person and as a scholar,

he has set an example which I can only hope to emulate. Professor

Antonini was responsible for teaching me not only the practical tools of

analysis that proved essential in the interpretation of data in the

field, but also for providing several extremely useful contacts within

the Caribbean area. Together with Professor Niddrie, Professor Popenoe

provided me with the knowledge for examining the physical aspects of the

research area; I am appreciative and grateful for his interest in the

study. Lastly, I would like to express especial gratitude to Professor

Feiss, who graciously donated a large portion of his valuable time to my

unremitting tapping of his extensive knowledge of the Virgin Islands.

With regard to computer programming and graphics, I am deeply in-

debted to Professor Hetrick of the Department of Geography and to Michael

Gibson, graduate assistant in the College of Architecture, both of


whom donated an inordinate amount of time and effort in adapting the

OASYS program for utilization in the research study.

In the field, valuable help was provided by Dr. Norwell E. Harrigan,

Director of the Caribbean Research Institute, College of the Virgin

Islands, who extended a research affiliation for purposes of the study.

In addition, Dr. Edward L. Towle, President of Island Resources

Foundation, Inc., provided support in innumerable ways. I also wish to

thank Professor Herbert L. Hiller of Florida International University

who, as doyen and prime motivator for a rational approach to tourism in

the Caribbean, has supplied me with both research materials and


Financial assistance was provided at a most opportune time by the

Barclays Bank International Development Fund, and I wish to express my

gratitude to Mr. Michael Donavon, branch manager in Tortola, for his

personal endeavors in helping to obtain this grant. Other financial

assistance was given by Peter Island Yacht Club and Island Resources

Lastly, on a personal note, I wish to thank Mr. and Mrs. Michael

O'Neil of Tortola for their continued hospitality and friendship.




ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.............................................. iv

LIST OF TABLES ................................................ ix

LIST OF FIGURES ............................................... ix

ABSTRACT...................................................... xiii

I INTRODUCTION.................................................. 1

Problem Background....................................... 1
Statement of Research Problems........................... 17
Research Hypotheses...................................... 17
Rationale and Need for Research.......................... 18
Methodological Approach.................................. 22
Organization of Study.................................... 35
Notes.................................................... 35

II PHYSICAL PARAMETERS............................................ 37

Introduction ............................................. 37
Location and Size........................................ 37
Geology, Topography and Soils............................ 38
Climate and Water Supply................................. 51
Vegetative Cover......................................... 56
Summary.................................................. 62
Notes.................................................... 62

,I41 SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PARAMETERS................................ 64

Introduction............................................. 64
Economic and Demographic History......................... 64
The Era of Tourism....................................... 77
Notes.................................................... 93

XV SELECTED IMPACTS OF TOURISM................................... 95

Introduction............................................. 95
Infrastructural Expansion................................ 95




Commerce and Industry................................... 105
Agriculture.............................................. 107
Land Tenure ............................................ 117
Demographic and Labor Force Characteristics.............. 118
Environmental Considerations............... ... ...... .. 127
Summary.................................................. 131
Notes.................................................... 131

V SURVEY DESIGN AND RESEARCH RESULTS............................ 133

Survey Design.......................... ....... .......... 133
Survey Returns ..... .................................... 135
Public Survey Results................................... 138
Experts' Questionnaire................................... 169
Results of the OASYS Program ............................. 177
Potential Tourism Development According
to Culture Group...................................... 184
Notes.................................................... 192

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES................ ............. .......... 194

Introduction............................................. 194
Initial Research and Comments (1958-1970)............... 195
Development Planning in the 1970's....................... 199
Notes.................................................... 226

VII CONCLUSIONS.................................................. 227

Notes.................................................... 231

SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE................................ 232




LIGHT INDUSTRY...................................... 243




RECREATIONAL AREAS.................................. 246



BY SUBSYSTEM...................................... 259

BY SUBSYSTEM........................................ 260

REFERENCES......................................................... 264

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY.............................................. 274

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH................................................ 282




1. Systems, Subsystems and Parameters............................. 33

2. Gross Domestic Product in Producers' Values, 1963-1974......... 85

3. Hotel Room Capacity, Tortola; 1960-1977........................ 88

4. Hotel Room Capacity by Island; 1970-1977....................... 89

5. Charter Yachts Based in Tortola, 1970-1976.............. ...... 91

6. Visitor/Tourist Arrivals by Method of Travel, 1967-1976........ 92

7. Composition of Domestic Exports, 1960-1974..................... 110

8. Composition of Imports, 1970-1974.............................. 111

9. Estimated Registered Employees by Nationality, 1970-1976....... 124

10. Target Populations and Sample Returns, General Public Survey... 136

11. Target Populations and Sample Returns for Tourists by Season... 139

12. Tourist Accommodation: First Choice Preference by All
Sample Groups........................................ 141

13. Preferred Tourist Accommodation: Tortolian Sample............. 144

14. Preferred Tourist Accommodation: High School Sub-Sample....... 145

15. Preferred Tourist Accommodation: Continental Resident Sample.. 146

16. Preferred Tourist Accommodation: Visitor Sample............... 147

17. Preferred Future Number of Tourists: All Sample Groups........ 148

18. Importance of Selected Factors in Attracting Tourists
to Tortola................... ....................... 150

19. Scenarios for Additional Hotel Development..................... 187

20. Scenarios for Additional Visitor-Owned Development............. 189

21. Total Preferred Tourism Accommodation Development.............. 190



1. Derivation of Computer Matrices, CASAT Program................ 26

2. OASYS Systems, Tortola........................................ 32

3. Base Map of the British and U.S. Virgin Islands............... 39

4. Base Map of Tortola........................................... 40

5. Geology of Tortola............................................ 44

6. Tortola's North Shore......................................... 45

7. Crystalline Limestone Formation, South-West Tortola........... 45

8. Parameter Slope ........ ......... .............................. 47

9. Parameter Soils............................................... 49

10. Parameter Rainfall ............................................ 54

11. Parameter Land Use ........................................... 57

12. Upland Tortola ................................................ 59

13. Field Rotation................................................ 59

14. Land Tenure, Tortola, 1798.................................... 71

15. Land Tenure, Tortola, 1974.................................... 72

16. Parameter Roads............................................... 97

17. Parameter Power Supply........................................ 99

18. Ridge Road, Tortola........................................... 100

19. Road Town, Tortola............................................ 100

20. Road Town Pier................................................ 102

21. Tortola Vetch in Charlotte Amalie Harbor...................... 102


22. Beef Island International Airport.............................. 104

23. The 'Flying Goose', Road Town.................................. 104

24. Agricultural Fair, Road Town................................... 112

25. The Market, Road Town .................... ................... 112

26. Newly Cleared Land............................................ 114

27. Cotton Bolls, Road Town........................................ 114

28. Terraced Fields................................................ 115

29. A Newly Sown Field............................................. 115

30. Red Poll Cattle................................................ 116

31. Small Livestock in Road Town................................... 116

32. Parameter Land Tenure ....... ................................... 119

33. 'Downislanders' Sending Remittances Home....................... 125

34. Queen's Birthday Parade........................................ 125

35. Cane Garden Bay................................................ 154

36. Duffs Bottom Refuse Dump....................................... 154

37. Parameter Aesthetics: Tortolians.............................. 155

38. Parameter Aesthetics: High School Students.................... 157

39. Parameter Aesthetics: Continental Residents................... 158

40. Parameter Aesthetics: Tourists................. ............ 160

41. Parameter Development: Tortolians............................. 162

42. Parameter Development: High School Students................... 164

43. Parameter Development: Continental Residents.................. 166

44. Parameter Development: Tourists............................... 167

45. Parameter Proximity to Coast................................... 175


46. Parameter Proximity to the Sea................................. 176

47. Composite OASYS Map: Tortolians............................... 178

48. Composite OASYS Map: High School Students..................... 179

49. Composite OASYS Map: Continental Residents.................... 180

50. Composite OASYS Map: Tourists................................. 181

51. Marina Activities, Wickhams Cay................................ 206

52. Smith Gore Building............................................ 206

53. Main Street, Road Town, Facing West............................ 207

54. Main Street, Road Town, Facing East............................ 207

55. Areas Suitable for Tourism Development; Draft
Territorial Plane and OASYS Program Results............... 218

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Christopher David Broom Howell

June 1978

Chairman: David L. Niddrie
Major Department: Geography

A linear combination model (OASYS) was used to assess the potential

carrying capacity of the island of Tortola for future tourist accommoda-

tion, according to physical, infrastructural and social parameters.

Perceptions toward tourism development by Tortolians, continental

residents, West Indian expatriates and visitors were gauged by means of

a public survey conducted during the period July, 1974, to June, 1975.

Local experts' evaluations of the suitability and importance of selected

physical and infrastructural parameters were derived by separate

questionnaire surveys. The sample for West Indian expatriates proved too

small to be valid, and instead a survey of high school students was


Results of the OASYS program suggest that perceptions toward future

tourism growth differ significantly according to culture group as well as

age group. Tortolian respondents -- in particular, the high school

students -- generally favored larger-scale development than either the

continental expatriate or visitor respondents, with the latter group
preferring little or no further development. Future tourist growth

scenarios, based upon the survey results and delineation of suitable

development sites by the OASYS model, are presented for each culture

group, and their ramifications for government policy discussed.

Lastly, the research results are compared and contrasted with other

studies -- undertaken both prior and subsequent to the survey period --

that address tourism potential in Tortola. While earlier studies

utilizing primarily economic criteria have tended to recommend a higher

tourist growth rate, the results of more recent physical planning studies

coincide closely with those derived from the OASYS program.


Problem Background
Travel for the purpose of pleasure is probably as ancient a custom

as the establishment of civilizations. Queen Sheba, when visiting
Solomon's kingdom (1 Kings X), could be described with some justifica-

tion as a precursor to the modern tourist. In the 4th century B.C., the

Greek Xenephon proposed that public monies be spent to provide accom-

modation for visitors to Athens (Young, 1973, p. 9). During the 18th and

19th centuries, the English "gentleman" was wont to embark upon a

European tour, while at the same time the more affluent American family

sojourned in London and Paris to imbibe the culture and latest fashions.

Technological advances in the 20th century have provided the means
for a higher standard of living and greater leisure time to be attained

by an ever-broadening sector of the population. Whereas in previous

centuries international tourism was the domain of the privileged elite,

it has become increasingly accessible to more catholic participation.

Not only has travel abroad become accepted as a pleasure of life by the

lower and middle working classes of industrialized nations, but also by a

growing number of citizens of less developed nations. As a consequence,

the travel trade has harnessed increasingly greater resources and

enveloped increasingly larger areas to satisfy the burgeoning demands of


The visitor industry, in fact, constitutes one of the most rapidly

expanding industries in the world (Patterson, 1968). Between 1950 and

1970, international tourist arrivals in all countries increased from 25

million to 168 million, representing an annual average growth rate of 10

percent (IUTO, 1972).1 Similarly, international tourist receipts

increased from $2.1 billion to $17.4 billion over the same period

(Tourism Sector Working Paper, 1972, p. 3). In 1975, the number of

international tourists had increased to more than 200 million, and

tourist receipts approximated $30 billion (Legislators' Seaside Resort

Study Mission, 1975, p. A6).

An even greater expansion is predicted for the future. By 1980, if

trends over the past decade continue, the number of international

tourists is estimated to be in the vicinity of 325 million, or approxi-

mately 13 times the number of travellers in 1950 (Green, 1972, p. 24).

Young has suggested that the potential for further tourism growth is far


Bearing in mind that 95 percent of the world's population has
not crossed an international frontier and that in 1971 only
one-half of one percent of the world's population did so, it
is a bold man who suggests that the tourist market is about to
level off. (1973, p. 172)

In both economic and social terms, the massive transfusion of funds

and people represented by the tourist trade must be considered as one of

the prime causations of change in many host countries over the past few
decades. Some of the more discernible effects of this phenomenon are

disucssed below.

Economic Impacts

The majority of economists traditionally have extolled the values of
tourism development in less developed countries where natural resources,
other than that of high aesthetic quality, are scarce. The industry

purportedly creates foreign exchange, offers employment opportunities,

strengthens the service sector and provides a powerful incentive to

increase infrastructure for use by both tourist and local citizen. For

such reasons, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development

and United Nations' development agencies have actively encouraged the

introduction and expansion of the industry in several developing


The results of certain economic studies would tend to support the

endeavors of international agencies and of local governments in promoting

tourism. It has been estimated that the construction and operation of

each hotel room creates between five and eight new jobs, and that the

construction of 1,000 hotel rooms results in an additional $3 million

entering the local economy (Compania Financiera Dominicana, 1972, p. 9).

Checchi and Company (1963) stated that the multiplier effect (additional

circulation) of the tourist dollar was an "extremely significant element"

in accelerating economic activity. According to one Soviet study as

described by Young:

the average profit, if that be the right word, from one
tourist is equal to the export of nine tons of coal, 15 tons
of oil, or two tons of grain. Further, if Lake Baikal were
exploited as a tourist center, it would earn twice as much
hard currency as the total export of oil from the USSR --
without depleting its stock of raw materials. (1973,
p. 133)

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that less well-endowed nations have

regarded tourism as a panacea for their economic woes.

Unfortunately, stark reality has a disappointing habit of suppress-

ing, or even negating, the promises of theory. The economic returns of

tourism to the host country often have been depressingly low. Bryden

suggested that:

tourism at present involves only minimal net flows of
foreign exchange from developed to developing countries
outside Europe, and at worst a net flow of foreign exchange to
the developed countries. (1973, p. 64)

The primary reason for the apparent anomaly is that almost all of the

tourism industry structure is controlled by large corporations of the

more developed nations -- in particular, the United States, Japan and

Western European countries. The need for visitor accommodation and

immediate confirmations has forced the independent hotel into the large

hotel chain, which in turn has been absorbed by the airline or large

travel agency. This process of horizontal integration within the

industry has resulted in most of the profit (if any) from the transpor-

tation of tourists and the operation of many of the larger hotels

accruing not to the host country, but to foreign investors and share-


The role of the tourism industry in stimulating other sectors of the

economy is being increasingly questioned. Foreign-owned hotels generally

buy little local agricultural produce, preferring instead to import the

packaged and processed food stuffs to which their guests are accustomed.

However, local government revenues derived from the import tax imposed

upon these commodities may not increase, since it has been a common

practice to extend liberal tax and duty "holidays" to new hotel opera-


Even more serious than providing less income than anticipated,
tourism may be actually deleterious to other sectors of the economy,

since it competes for scarce resources such as capital, land and labor.
Agriculture, in particular, has declined rapidly in such tourism-domi-

nated economies as the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and the

Bahamas (Bryden, 1973, p. 47). Even where agriculture was, until

recently, extremely viable in providing a major export crop, the impact

has been severe:

Tourism has proved a doubtful blessing to the balance of
payments of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. This small
island has depended for many years on its banana crop, from
which it earned $2.5 million in 1969 from 85,000 tons of
bananas. The tourist boom, however, has caused a flight of
labour from the land, leaving the task of growing bananas to
the landowers and their immediate families. It has been
estimated that the average family unit can only manage five
acres without outside help. Since many of the units are much
larger, there have been disastrous effects on productivity and
considerable underutilization of land. The switch to
tourism has strained the balance of trade The problem
is of course aggravated by the peak of the season coinciding
with agricultural harvest and fruit picking time. (Young,
1973, p. 152)

It is not only in the Caribbean, however, where agriculture pursuits have

declined. Switzerland, which possesses a tourism industry considered

exemplary by many people within the visitor industry, has witnessed a

large-scale sale and consequent abandonment of small farms as a result of

high land prices:

At first [the small farmer] would feel he had done well. But
the money would only have its full value if it were reinvested
properly -- and he would have no skill or knowledge of this
kind. What is likely to happen in consequence? When the
tourist facilities are built, he is left landless, and trained
only in the agricultural skills which are no longer relevant.
Accordingly, the only work he can get is low-status work.
(Leisure-Tourism: Threat and Promise, 1970, p. 30)
The point made in the above quotation is important so far as the

participation of local workers is concerned. Often with very limited

skills, the indigene usually undertakes the more menial and seasonal

jobs, whereas middle and upper management positions are reserved --

especially in less developed countries -- for the skilled expatriate.

Apart from the adverse effect of declining exports upon a host

country's balance of payments, the inflows of visitors may not only cause

a large increase of imports in order to support the hotel trade, but also
to satisfy the rising demands of the local citizenry. Runciman (1972,

p. 10) referred to the concept of "relative deprivation," whereby the

indigene compares his own standard of living with the pattern of consump-

tion by the tourist. This "demonstration effect" may cause the substitu-

tion of locally grown produce, such as vegetables, pulses and root crops,

by imported processed commodities, as has occurred notably in Jamaica

(Adams, 1968). Thus, a further strain -- and increased dependence -- is

placed upon the host country's economy.

A tourist-dependent nation (for example, the Bahamas, the British

Virgin Islands or Antigua) exhibits an extremely "open" economy, as

expressed by Renucci:

Capital investments come from sources exterior to the
development projects; they aim at satisfying demands from
outside the island and create profits which, for the most
part, leave the island. (quoted in Young, 1973, p. 141)

Such nations are thus highly susceptible to the fashion and economic

fluctuations experienced in foreign countries. During the recent

depression years of 1973 and 1974, for example, few hotels in the

Caribbean realized a profit. The tourism industry is also vulnerable to

the perceptions of potential visitors. After the murder in September,

1972, of six people in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands (which was widely

and sensationally reported by the American press), hotel occupancy levels

decreased from an average of 70 percent to one of between 10 and 15

percent (Legislators' Seaside Resort Study Mission, 1975, p. A4).

Since tourism expenditures may be classified as "non-essential,"

they are subject to the whims of any other luxury item. A resort may be

"in" one year, but "passe" the next. The ephemeral "jet set," for

example, has long abandoned the traditional havens of Europe, the Carib-

bean and Hawaii, but is now diffused throughout Africa, South America,

China, Nepal, the Philippines and even Antarctica (Green, 1972, p. 34).

The rich are replaced by the horde once a resort area has been

"discovered," but the unique and unsullied aspects of the area may

quickly disappear. Once fallen from grace, very few tourist centers

regain it; as Young remarked:

Usually it is a one way process involving the deterioration of
facilities, misuse of resources and the spoilation of the very
assets that brought the tourists in the first place. (1973,
p. 123)
The once ubiquitous endorsement bestowed upon tourism as a panacea for

economic development should, therefore, be carefully reassessed. Tourism

may not be the "golden goose," and economic returns may be but marginal.

Of the tourist in Tasmania, it has been said:

S he arrives with a clean shirt and a $A10 note and does
not change either of them. (Young, 1973, p. 126)

In Spain, the average tourist in 1973 spent approximately $80, a sum

which did not particularly please the Government:

[This] is radically low and out of proportion with what Spain
has to spend to adapt the country's infrastructure (especially
roads, airports, power and water supply, sanitation) to the
invasion and clean up the ecological damage caused during the
years of unchecked expansion. Merely cleaning up the Costa
Brava, 100 miles of Spain's 600 miles of Mediterranean
coastline, will cost $40 million according to official
estimates. (Uebersax, 1973, p. 22)
Switzerland, even though extolled for its touristic virtures, has not

been overwhelmingly blessed by the visitor industry:

In the Alps, the short-term local advantages accrued through
tourism have been increases in land prices, seasonal winter
employment and the development of small guest-houses. But in
the long run, higher land prices destroy local agriculture,
seasonal employment is created for non-local people and large
hotels readily displace the family pension. In terms of
industrial, economic activity, such transformations of the
rural environment are common enough. Tourism, however, is no
less an industry than steel manufacturing and its introduction
into Alpine valleys has been no less destructive of total
population patterns and traditional culture than if each hotel
had been a blast furnace. (Cosgrove and Jackson, 1972,
p. 127)

In Curacao, on the occasion the argument of economic necessity of tourism

was proffered to Stanley Brown, member of Parliament of the Netherlands

Antilles, he replied:

We are getting only a marginal effect from the hotels and
shops. Only a few hundred people are employed by them
directly, and the profits go into only a few pockets. The
hotels buy none of their food locally, no pigs, not even a
chicken. None of their furniture is made locally. Everything
is imported. In return, we put in better roads for the
hotels, give them our best beaches, put in electric lines --
public spending that we can use much better on welfare and
housing. We're ending up the losers. (Greene, 1971,
p. 12)

If the economic benefits of tourism are questionable, then the social

ramifications are even more so.

Social Impacts

The subject area of social change and modification wrought by

tourism has received little attention from geographers and economists

alike, even though most of the criticism directed at the visitor industry

has been in the field of social impact. A report of the World Council of

Churches stated:

An excessive number of tourists can generate social strains
in small and unsophisticated communities. The human effect,
on this scale and on the international scale, of competition
for tourist 'consumers' has been given too little attention
and deserves serious research. (Leisure-Tourism: Threat and
Promise, 1970, p. 21)

Perhaps it may be that the simplicity of utilizing the measurement of

dollar flows as a surrogate for "development"2 entices more

researchers than the complexity of social interaction and change.

Peters (1969, p. 126) propounded that tourism creates social bene-

fits arising from a "widening of people's interest generally in world

affairs and to a new understanding of foreigners and foreign tastes." By

far the majority of writers, however, have noted the disruption of


societies and the alienation of their citizens as being the major

consequences of the inroads of mass tourism.

A primary reason for social discontent has been the unfulfilled

economic promises made on the behalf of tourism. Inflation, the offering

of only menial jobs and the vast discrepancies in income between tourist

and local resident all present an impression to the latter -- be he in

Spain or Jamaica -- that he has become a "second class" citizen in his

own country. The inherent nature of tourism promotes a feeling of

servitude; it must "live with an internal schizophrenic factor, derived

from the confrontation of man at his leisure and man at his work" (Towle,

1971, p. 2). For a newly independent and proud nation -- especially if

it has experienced a history of slavery, as in the Caribbean -- it is

difficult to imagine a more potentially destructive industry than

ill-managed and unplanned tourism.

It is unfortunate in many respects that the visitor industry is

controlled by international concerns with no particular respect for the

requirement of individual countries. The large, technologically advanced

hotels require large quantities of precisely those resources which are

often in short supply -- for instance, land and fresh water in the

smaller Caribbean islands. In addition, the primary concern of overseas

marketing agencies is to move masses of people, not to cater to local

cultures and customs. In fact, in the less developed countries, cultural

aspects are almost always ignored, with advertising instead emphasizing

the 'normalized' attractions of "sun, sea and sand." An example is a

recent article in the Eastern Airlines' magazine Review, which

categorized and compared Caribbean islands under such labels as the
"remotest," the "quietest," "prettiest," "most expensive," "least

expensive" and the "sportiest" (Keown, 1977). No reference was made to

the islands' inhabitants; there were no categories for the "friendliest"

or the "most culturally fascinating" island. The indigenes were totally


The international packaging of tourism is aptly portrayed in an

article which appeared in the International Herald Tribune. Under a

photograph of an attractive woman on a sunny beach, the caption read:

Where did you say? -- This poster of a sun-tanned girl
(American), standing on the Beach (Tunisian), shot by a
photographer (German) and bought from an agency (Italian) is
designed to attract tourists to the seaside resort of Exmouth,
on the Devonshire coast (English). (quoted in MacCannell,
1976, p. 142)

For the consumption of visitors, any unique customs and cultures are
vulgarized for mass palatability, much in the same way as American hotel

chains have standardized accommodation. Although there may be "no

unexpected surprises," there certainly are no unexpected delights.

Perhaps it is because of the remarkable plasticity of the

present-day Swiss culture that has made Switzerland so eminently

successful in tourism. As MacCannell remarked:

her mountains and lakes are not merely nature, but "scenery";
she has an elaborate transportation system for the exclusive
use of sightseers; her national dish, fondue, is exclusively a
party dish; her peasantry has obligingly continued to use
picturesque outfits and equipment, Heidi and William Tell
costumes, Alpine horns and oversized cowbells, long after
other European peasants have abandoned their colorful ways;
one of her main industries turns out what are two of the most
stable souvenirs not merely of Switzerland but of Western
Europe, music boxes and cuckoo clocks; her chalets are the
model of mountain recreation homes throughout the Western
world. Interestingly Switzerland is rarely critized for
being "too touristy". Some of the most outspoken
anti-tourists I know point to Switzerland as the model of what
a modern nation should be. (1976, p. 168)
In other countries, the populace may not be quite so obliging in

performing for the visitor. In Hawaii, "local folks get a bit tired of

performing the dance of the vestal virgins every morning at ten"

(Legislators' Seaside Resort Study Mission, 1975, p. ii). In a report by

the World Council of Churches, it was suggested that:

People in South East Asia who were at the receiving end of the
tourist-boom often felt that they were made into something like
a human zoo. Tourists came along to see 'the natives' and to
study the odd habits of natives. Local people were thus encour-
aged to be 'interesting natives', and go through traditional
movements for the benefit of goggling strangers. It robbed a
people of their dignity to be treated as zoo-objects.
(Leisure-Tourism: Threat and Promise, 1970, p. 31)
The loss of dignity, which has been mentioned by several authors (includ-

ing Bryden, 1973; Demas, 1970; Naipaul, 1962), has been a common cause

for active resentment towards the visitors.

Misleading advertising of a destination may cause dissatisfaction

and resentment amongst tourists which, if reflected in their behavior,
"may be heartily reciprocated" (Bryden, 1973, p. 95). Unfortunately, the

ubiquitous classification of oceanic islands as "paradise" may all too

easily produce such resentment. Many tourists are surprised when they

visit Bali Ha'i, for example:

[The island] still drifts in and out of the mists, but it has
underground cables now. Paradise has parliaments, passports,
pollution and popcorn. (Rosenblum, 1973, p. 5B)

The former premier of St. Vincent, James F. Mitchell has attempted to

dispel the theory of the "idyllic niche":

Let us face it, there is no paradise, only different ways of life.
Not that paradise has been lost, or destroyed, but that it never
existed. The North American trying to escape a big city problem like
air pollution may not recognize the West Indian's problem of lack of
opportunity in a small island. But it is a problem just the same.
(Nordheimer, 1973, p. El)

Myths have a habit of lingering, however, especially when they are con-

stantly revived in glossy brochures. The tourist, usually ignorant of

the host country's culture and only knowledgeable of that country's "sun,

sea and sand," may be abrasive and rude when his more exotic imaginations

are dispelled.


Resentment amongst the local populace has become so apparent in

certain destination areas that governments have been forced to wage

publicity campaigns emphasizing the economic value of tourism. "Be nice

to tourists" and "tourists are nice people" campaigns have been

undertaken in several resort areas, including Miami, Florida, the

Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Spain. At the

same time, however, local and national governments continue to spend

millions of dollars in advertising to attract even more tourists. Not

even the symptom, let alone the disease, has been properly treated, and

visitor-resident relations continue to deteriorate.

The Potential for Alternative Tourism Development: The Caribbean

A combination of factors, including historic and ethnic legacies,

vastly discrepant incomes, restricted land area and employment

opportunities, but primarily rapid and unplanned growth of the visitor

industry,3 has induced in the Caribbean a more visible portrayal of

the economic and social ill-effects of tourism than probably in any other

resort area in the world. Major political upheavals during the past ten

years in such islands as Jamaica, Curacao, Trinidad and Tobago and

Grenada have only aggravated the uncertain climate for investment and the

increasing hesitancy of tourists to visit certain resort areas.

The recession years of the 1970's were not particularly propitious

for the hotel sector in several islands. An operating deficit was

incurred in the industry as a whole in Barbados in 1971. In Puerto Rico

and the Bahamas, the Government by 1974 had taken over hotels which were

in the process of financial collapse. The Director of Tourism in Jamaica

predicted in that year that ten hotels would declare bankruptcy. In

1973, two leading hotels in Curacao lost over $1.5 million, and in the


Leeward and Windwards Islands as a whole, "few have managed to

break even" (Crozier, 1974, p. 5).

It was in this aura of gathering gloom that a special seminar,

entitled Toward a Lasting Tourism, was held in Puerto Rico in 1972.

Arising from the initiative of Herbert L. Hiller, then a recently

appointed Executive Director of the Caribbean Travel Association, the

seminar attracted tourist industry and government representatives as well

as academicians from several disciplines.

The findings of the seminar were basically that the marketing and

hotel industries were drastically out of touch with the needs and

requirements of Caribbean islands. An "indigenous" style of tourism was

called for, that could complement the existing internationally-oriented

hotel activities. It was suggested that the visitor industry should

cater more to the requirements and resources of small islands; instead of

the traditional "give 'em what they want" attitude, the motto should be

"what we have is what you get." James F. Mitchell, then premier of

St. Vincent, remarked:

If you want smoked salmon, go to British Columbia If
you want fresh lobster and king fish come our way. (Arton,
1972, p. 12)

The cultural aspects of the islands needed to be stressed, rather than

merely the usual "sun, sea and sand" approach utilized in advertising.

The "personalization" of tourism in the Caribbean has met with some

limited success. In Jamaica, a "meet the people" program was inaugurated

to enable visitors to be guests of private residents. In addition, that

country now operates "Inns of Jamaica," a chain of small guest-houses

that offers far more local atmosphere and amenities than the larger

foreign-owned hotels. Similarly, Puerto Rico has its "Paradores Puertor-

riquenos," accommodation facilities that are considered representative of

the country's history and traditions. The Caribbean Hotel Association

established a Small Hotels Advisory Council (SHAC) to give advice to

small accommodation facilities. The Caribbean Tourist Research Center

was initiated in early 1974 to advise governments in the planning and

development of tourism.

The Puerto Rican and subsequent seminars have accomplished much, if

only to increase awareness of the far more constructive potential that

the tourism industry could conceivably offer small Caribbean islands in

attaining national growth and development. The more things change,

however, the more they stay the same. After the recession years of

reorientation and reappraisal, the improving economic outlook has brought

with it even more grandiose schemes of externally-oriented development.

A tourism project is present in the Turks and Caicos Islands

that will utilize more than 1,500 acres on North Caicos for a massive

resort (Bolt, 1977). In the Bahamas, the 'Club Mediterranee' is in the

process of investing $40 million to create four holiday villages, each

capable of accommodating 600 guests ('News', 1976, p. 8).

It is extremely doubtful whether the above schemes will contribute

significantly more to the long-term well-being of the islanders than

previous externally oriented resort developments. Given their size,

however, the proposed projects do present the risk of economic and social

disruption on an unprecedented scale. Some questions raised by Hiller

deserve serious consideration:

Mass tourism is not going to support Caribbean development.
It may fill hotel rooms but that is not the same as develop-
ment Here we are into about a quarter century's
experience with tourism in the Caribbean. And can anyone tell
me that service has improved? Can anyone tell me that labor
relations in tourism have gotten better? Except for funds we
receive in grants, has tourism made it easier for West Indians
to buy a piece of land, or hold on to what they've inherited?
Has our tourism encouraged West Indians to become

enterpreneurs? Has it taught us in the island to develop our
own agriculture so we can feed visitors without importing
food, or at least to buy from within the region rather than
overseas? (1972b, p. 3)

Unfortunately, the answer to all of these questions must be in the


Planning and Carrying Capacity Concepts

The rapid tourism growth of the 1960's occurred in several destina-

tion areas which were unprepared to cope with the influx of visitors.

Piece-meal planning, rather than an overall development strategy, was the

rule. A large airport would be built, irrespective of whether the infra-

structure and hotel facilities could handle the incoming mass. As a

result, several areas became overburdened with chaotic construction,

crowded streets and pollution, all presenting serious problems. Both the

economic and social effects were harmful to the local populations. The

Legislators' Seaside Study Mission commented:

It would seem difficult for a government simultaneously to
make tourism unprofitable for the private sector, costly
to the taxpayer and socially unacceptable. But it has been
achieved in some places. (1975, p. v)

Overall planning, no matter how well regimented, is an exceedingly

difficult task once the damage has been done.

The concept of carrying capacity, or "saturation point," with regard
to tourism has been increasingly discussed in recent years. Young (1973,

pp. 111-112) mentioned four ways in which saturation of a locality or

region could take place. First, land could be diverted to tourist uses,

denying utilization for other purposes. Secondly, the tourism industry

could absorb the local labor supply and adversely affect the productivity

potential of the economy. Thirdly, the infrastructure could become

overburdened. Lastly, a psychological saturation level could be reached

among local residents.


Examples of all the above instances may be found readily. Some of

the smaller Caribbean islands such as Nassau in the Bahamas are used

primarily for recreation purposes. The Cayman Islands and the British

Virgin Islands afford good examples of the large majority of the labor

supply being harnessed to tourism activities. St. Thomas of the U.S.
Virgin Islands is experiencing a severe overburden of its infrastructure,

including the road system, water supply, electricity and sewerage. Even

the Borough of Westminster in London may be cited in this respect.4

Areas of Jamaica -- for example, Kingston -- may be cited where a

psychological saturation point has been reached or surpassed with regard

to the local population.

A few countries have accepted the need for rigid control -- or even

the prevention -- of additional tourism development. In Switzerland,

some city centers have been closed to automobiles, the construction of

large hotels has been banned, night flights in Swiss air space have been

prohibited and a moratorium has been placed on the construction of

additional airports (Green, 1972, p. 24). In Bermuda, the Government has

suspended the building of additional hotel facilities until at least 1981

(Legislators' Seaside Resort Mission, 1975, p. 23). The Pacific island

of Tonga simply has decided that it can do without the blessings of


Other nations are attempting to manage the growth of tourism

according to designed goals. In the Seychelles, for example, it was

accepted that:

The number of hotel beds to be permitted on any one of the
inner islands (excluding the main island) should not exceed
five percent of the population living on the island. The more
remote islands where services and population were very limited
were virtually "off limits" for any form of development except
for a few small fishing lodges. (Lascelles, 1976, p. 20)

In St. Maarten, the Director of Tourism suggested that a maximum of 3,000

visitor beds be permitted (Young, 1973, p. 166).

Although undoubtedly sensible, such precautionary planning neces-

sarily is somewhat arbitrary. While it may be relatively easy to distin-

guish the symptoms of overdevelopment once they are present, it is a far

more difficult task to predetermine the type and bounds of growth that

would prevent such ill-effects. The purpose of this present study will

be to examine the feasibility of one method of analysis that potentially

could provide assistance in this planning process.

Statement of Research Problem

The.objective is the evaluation of the present and future impact of

tourism development in the British Virgin Island of Tortola, mainly

through the use of physical, social and infrastructural parameters.

Based upon these parameters, the most suitable areas, as well as zones of

possible contention, for tourism development will be delineated. The

carrying capacity of different modes of tourism development within these

areas will be examined and evaluated.

Research Hypotheses

Several authors (including Carter, 1964; Hall, 1959; Saarinen, 1969;

Zelinsky, 1967) have noted that different culture groups perceive an

environment, and utilize that environment, in different ways. In

Tortola, three generally distinct culture groups exist -- the white

continental residents, the West Indian expatriates, and the Tortolians

themselves -- as well as the transient visitor group. It is first

postulated that perception by these groups of the environment, its

development for tourism, and potential hazards (Kates, 1962; Burton and

Kates, 1964) in any such development process, will differ markedly one

from the other.

Secondly, it is contended that a study of primarily physical and
social parameters of tourism development may suggest a different mag-

nitude and type from that suggested by most economically-oriented studies

so far undertaken.

Rationale and Need for Research

Since most investment has emanated from economically advanced

countries, tourism development in the Caribbean has tended to be massive

in scale, and an extension of the high technological -- and high energy-

consuming -- design found in those countries. Because of their size,

however, many of the Caribbean islands possess small, relatively fragile

ecosystems, upon which the rapid growth of tourism is engendering such

severe stress that one writer has referred to them as "an endangered

species" (Towle, 1971). In a report issued in 1971, Grigg, VanEepoel and

Brody stated that:

The tendency to convert natural systems toward the economic
end to which they can most easily be converted cannot always
be justified when weighed against the rapidly deteriorating
quality of man's environment. (1971, p. 12)

Barely ten miles to the west of Tortola (the largest of the British

Virgin Islands), St. Thomas presently is experiencing what may be termed
'second generation' problems. These problems have been exacerbated by

what has been described as "a particularly bad case of irresponsible


development" (O'Shaughnessy, 1972, p. 32). As early as 1960, Kingsbury

(1960, p. 21) considered that, because of its limited land area and local

population, the island was rapidly reaching "tourist saturation." Orlins

(1969) cites the problem of sewage disposal and resultant pollution in

the harbor of Charlotte Amalie (sewage pipes were laid only in late

1972). Drinking water has to be shipped in by barge from Puerto Rico.

Serious soil erosion has resulted from the construction of dwellings --

mostly for tourists -- on steep slopes.

The physical deterioration of an environment, especially as it

affects the indigenous population, may be regarded as a "social cost," as

defined by McHarg (1969, p. 34), rather than a simple economic cost; it

is therefore the more difficult to recover in the final accounting

process. Furthermore, tourism development in the Caribbean areas is

being, and has been, undertaken with little or no regard to differing

perceptions of the different culture groups present, with the result that

stress amongst those groups may well have been intensified. "Stress" has

been defined by Wolpert as "noxious or potentially noxious environmental

forces acting upon an individual or a social group in such a way as to

impose a perceived threat upon an accustomed way of doing things" (1966,

p. 93). If, as all too often has happened, the decision-making process

of tourism development and its accruing profits by-pass the majority of

the indigenes, such stress and its accompanying feelings of resentment
and hostility may readily surface. A manifesto published in St. Croix


Brothers and Sisters this business of welcoming a tourist
OUT OF OUR HOME. We are trying like hell to make it buying our
goods and services on a market set-up for people who are visiting
and do not really care how much they spend. THE TRUTH IS:


Black people in the Virgin Islands are ENSLAVED to tourist trade.
(UCA Speaks, 1970)
Similar comments of resentment toward the tourism industry may be found

throughout the Caribbean area. Persaud, in arguing against an increasing.

influx of tourists into the Caribbean area, succinctly suggested a solu-

tion to the problem:

tourism development on these small vulnerable islands
must be of the type that will generate economic development
as well as enable the Caribbean people to continue to feel
that the Caribbean is their home -- a place where they can
continue to work and live and bring up their children .
(1973, p. 486)

Although tourism development has rapidly increased in the British

Virgin Islands during the last decade, many of the problems already

identified in the neighboring U.S. Virgins are not apparent. Certain

early symptoms have been evident in "an influx of 'fast buck' merchants

bent on taking advantage of the situation," as reported by Batham (1969,

p. 563), but timely action by the Government has so far prevented

physical deterioration of the environment and alienation of the Virgin

Islanders before it was too late. The almost total development of

Anegada as an international offshore trading center was halted, and the

agreement with the Development Corporation of Anegada rescinded, after

local opposition to the project became known to the Government (Harrigan

and Varlack, 1971). Later, a request to build an oil storage plant on

the same island was denied when it became apparent that the concerned

company demanded exclusivity rights and an unhindered choice of site

location. The passing of the 1970 Aliens Land Holding Regulation Act has

limited land speculation.

If further tourism development is envisaged in the British Virgin

Islands, however, and minimal degradation to the present physical and

social environment is desired, there must soon be an investigation in

situ in order to determine at what stage there is a risk that social

costs are likely to outweigh the economic benefits gained -- .a stage that

may well have been reached in other islands of the Caribbean. Economic

analysis alone will not be enough, since there is an implicit assumption

that what cannot be quantified directly in dollar terms (such as social

costs) must be transformed to surrogate dollar terms. This approach has

been criticized as being "narrow minded and based on false assumptions"

(Burton, 1968, p. 472). Worse still, as McHarg points out, such social

costs merely may be ignored:

Neither love nor compassion, health nor beauty, dignity
nor freedom, grace nor delight are important unless they can
be priced. If they are non-price benefits or costs they are
relegated to inconsequence. The economic model proceeds
inexorably towards its self-fulfillment of more and more
despoilation, uglification and inhibition to life, all in
the name of progress -- yet, paradoxically, the components
which the model excludes are the most important human ambi-
tions and accomplishments and the requirements for survival.
(1969, p. 25)

Rather, an environmental management approach is called for. O'Riordan

describes such an approach as recognizing:

.. .the interaction between man as a sociocultural as well
as an ecological organism and the various external influences
acting upon his way of life, analyzes the processes by which he
interprets and responds to these, and attempts to direct his use
of his biosocial environment in a a manner best designed to meet
both his long term and short term needs and aspirations. (1971,
p. 177)

The proposed research project as it is here outlined will not be an
attempt to study all the facets of environmental management, a task which

would involve many hands and years. It does, however, attempt to answer

partially the question posed by a British Caribbean premier during a

seminar held in Miami in November, 1973: "how do you determine a future

level of tourism that is not destructive to an island?" (Alternate

Tourism Perspectives, 1973).

When denying the request for an oil storage plant on Anegada, the
Honourable Willard Wheatley, Chief Minister of the British Virgin
Islands, was quoted as saying: "[T]here is a long future ahead for the

British Virgin Islands and had we now made the wrong decision, the
greater part of the regret, suffering and anger would have belonged to
that future" (Caribbean Monthly Bulletin, 1973, p. 22). It is intended

that the proposed research, which will be an applied geographical study,

will yield some information to help safeguard that future.

Methodological Approach

Within the United States since the mid-1960's, there has been an
increasing endeavor to measure more precisely the total impact and social
costs emanating from any major development project, dictated by bur-

geoning environmental legislation such as the National Environmental

Protection Act (NEPA) of 1969. One such proponent of more comprehensive
analysis was Ian McHarg, an architect and planner by profession, who

evolved a simple, graphic, overlay technique -- or ordinal combination

method -- initially to help to select the routes of proposed highways in

the States of New Jersey and New York. The methodology used in this
study is derived primarily from such an overlay approach.

The McHarg Overlay Technique

McHarg considered that nature constituted "a value system with
intrinsic opportunities and constraints to human use" (1969, p. 34). A
highway, for example, required certain conditions. If these already
existed -- in the form of favorable slopes, reliable foundations and
readily available construction materials -- then such propitious


circumstances would represent savings. Unfavorable conditions, on the

other hand, would increase costs.

Unlike the highway commissioner or engineer, however, McHarg used

the terms "savings" and "costs" to connote not merely economic factors,

but also to encompass social and natural resource considerations. His

premise was that physical, biological and social, as well as economic,

parameters could be measured and represented as values in estimating

total costs and benefits of a development.

The method utilized by McHarg was to identify the processes within

an area that needed to be considered. Once these had been identified,

they could be ranked:

.. .the most valuable land and the least, the most valuable
water resources and the least, the most and least productive
land, the richest wildlife habitats and those of no value, the
areas of great and little scenic beauty, historic buildings and
their absence and so on. (1969, p. 34)

Each ranked process, or parameter, could then be represented by appro-

priate grey tones, the darker the tone symbolizing the greater the cost

(or unsuitability) with regard to physiographic parameters, or the higher

the value with regard to social parameters. With the use of any trans-

parent or translucent drafting material, the maps could be superimposed
to reveal the composite, highest social cost areas by means of the

darkest tone, and the least social cost areas the lightest tone. By

choosing that area most compatible with the proposed development -- that

is, the area represented by the lightest tone -- the "solution of

maximum social utility" could be achieved, whereby "maximum social

benefit could be derived at least social cost" (McHarg, 1969, p. 34).

McHarg readily conceded that all processes, or parameters, might not

be of equal importance; suitable bedrock and slope, for example, could be

significantly more important in locating a highway than other parameter.

He thought it reasonable to presume, however, that:

.where there is an overwhelming concentration of
physiographic obstruction and social value, such areas
should be excluded from consideration; when these factors
are absent, there is a presumption that such areas justify
consideration. (1969, p. 34)

The CASAT Technique

The need for such literal "black and white" interpretation imposed

by the nature of the McHarg technique limits its application in relation

to "real world" problems. Ward, Grant and Chapman (1970), for example,

attempted to apply the McHarg method to locating and planning a new town

in San Luis Obispo County, California, but encountered difficulties.

Apart from the major need for differentiation in importance between

parameters, they found that the graphic technique allowed little flexi-

bility in data representation without expensive conversion techniques or

the drawing of new maps. Also, the technique was not able to cope

simultaneously with two or more potential land uses -- such as housing,

parks and highways -- requiring different conditions. Instead, a series

of individual map overlays had to be compiled for each potential land-use

-- an expensive and laborious task.

In order to overcome these limitations, Ward, Grant and Chapman

devised a computer program which they named "Computer-Aided Space

Allocation Technique" (CASAT). This linear combination method not only

allowed a finer distinction to be made between parameters, but also

offered some means of measuring the suitability of the mix of land-uses

derived from different paramter-weighting alternatives. The computerized

technique facilitated rapid and inexpensive changes in the data input,

unlike the fixed graphic value representations of McHarg's method.

The CASAT technique is described below with the use of actual data

collected for a small parcel of land, located in the author's study area

of Tortola, British Virgin Islands. In this instance, the suitability of

a subsystem, agriculture, is gauged by considering only three parameters

-- soils, rainfall and slope.

Figure 1 portrays these parameters for a small cay (Frenchman's

Cay), which is located adjacent to the southwestern tip of mainland
Tortola. Just under one mile long (1.5 km), the cay reaches a height of

355 feet (325 m) and is characterized by relatively steep slopes. The

geology and immature soils are varied, but are composed primarily of

tuffaceous wackes and quartz diorite (Mather, 1971). The cay's low

annual rainfall total of 40 to 44 inches (102 to 112 cm) is fairly

typical of lowland Tortola.

Once the chosen parameters have been mapped, their individual
characteristics are divided into nine or less indexed classes, or data

types;5 The parameter, slope, for example, has been designated four

data types in Figure 1. These indexed classes are then substituted for

the raw data in the original maps. The result is a numerical matrix

portraying the spatial configuration of the parameter zones of classifi-

cation (see Figure 1, Step 3).

Each data type is assigned a suitability value (Beta-value) accord-

ing to how desirable it is considered to be in relation to the subsystem

under review. Values are taken from a one-to-nine scale, on which nine

signifies "most suitable," one signifies "least suitable," and five

represents "neutral." In Figure 1, Step 4, for example, Index Type I

(alluvium) is considered better suited for agricultural pursuits than

any of the other three soil classes. Although prone to certain subjec-

tivity, the assignment of suitability values should be guided by






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scientific fact or empirical evidence. A "Beta-value matrix" is then

constructed by substituting the suitability values for the data types, as

shown in Figure 1, Step 5.

In order to assess the relative importance of each parameter in

relation to the others, an "Alpha-value" is assigned on the same one-to-

nine scale. In Figure 1, Step 6, rainfall is considered to be the most

significant parameter, with soils and slope co-equal in lesser impor-


Each element in each suitability value matrix is then multiplied by

the corresponding parameter weight, yielding an "Alpha-Beta matrix." All

such matrices are summed by matrix addition to form one "summation Alpha-

Beta Matrix." In order to convert this latter matrix back to a one-to-

nine scale, it is divided by the sum of the Alpha values, or parameter


With regard to Frenchman's Cay, the resulting normalized summation

Alpha-Beta matrix suggests that the area is generally marginal for

agriculture, although some coastline locations appear moderately

suitable, demarcated by a rating of seven.

For the sake of comparison, the actual land use on Frenchman's Cay

in early 1975 is shown below the normalized summation Alpha-Beta matrix.

The land use configuration was derived from information contained in air

photo coverage (Huntington, 1969), which was brought up to date through

field research by the author. It may be noted that all land then culti-

vated corresponds to areas in the matrix with a rating of six or higher.

Much of the highest rated coastline areas has been utilized for res-

idences, which is not surprising considering the importance of kitchen

gardens in the British Virgin Islands and elsewhere in the Caribbean.

Elsewhere on the cay, higher rated land is associated with a richer

natural vegetation. The only major anomaly is in the causeway area,

which is occupied by mangrove vegetation. Smaller anomalies may be

.accounted for by the influence of other parameters than those considered,
such as land ownership patterns, as well as the fact that some areas

classified as "scrub" represent fallow rather than a climax vegetation.

A problem arises when more than one subsystem needs to be evaluated
for the same area. Certain types of tourism development in Frenchman's

Cay, for example, might be more appropriate than agriculture. In this

instance, Ward, Grant and Chapman suggested the use of a "Gamma-value,"

which would measure the relative importance between subsystems the same

way as an Alpha-value distinguishes between parameters. It should be

noted that the assignment of both Gamma and Alpha-values is subject to a

greater degree of subjectivity than associated with Beta-values. An

ardent horticulturalist, for example, might object to the proposition of

potentially good agricultural land being utilized for another purpose.

The OASYS Program

Bowers' (1971) space allocation model entitled "Optional Allocation

System" (OASYS) is essentially a Fortran modification of Ward, Grant and

Chapman's PL/I computer program. It performs the same task of using

parameters to evaluate a subsystem, as well as assessing the suitability

of a system in terms of its potential subsystem.

The OASYS Program was later used by Wolter (1973), in cooperation
with other members of the Department of Architecture, University of

Florida, in an attempt to map the impact of Walt Disney World's devel-

opment upon the surrounding Orlando area in Florida. The subsystems

considered included agriculture, commercial, cultural and institutional,

natural systems, parks and recreation, and residential activities. The
intention of the study was to determine the highest quality of the

environment that theoretically could be obtained through controlled

growth (Wolter, 1973, 1).

Although no publication resulted directly from Wolter's research,

the Department of Architecture did eventually publish a voluminous report

on the Green Swamp, a major natural water recharge area which was in-

cluded within the original study region. The OASYS program was used to

identify those areas in the Green Swamp that should be protected from

alteration or development (Green Swamp Study Planner's Manual, 1975).

Modifications to the OASYS Program

Previous users of the OASYS program have concentrated on land use

allocation problems within areas sufficiently homogeneous as to be

encompassed within one system. A small oceanic volcanic island, however,

may display such widely varying features that more than one system may be

required, especially in relation to the derivation of Gamma-values. The

subsystem, natural vegetation, for example, may be weighted favorably for

allocation on inland slopes, but it may receive a completely different

Gamma-value with regard to a coastal lowland area.

For the purpose of land allocation in Tortola, therefore, another

tier was added to Ward, Grant and Chapman's hierarchy -- that of five

systems so as to incorporate all of the features of the island, as shown

in Figure 2. A listing of the systems, together with all the subsystems

and parameters, is presented in Table 1. The data types or classes used

for each parameter are discussed separately in Chapters II, IV and V,

addressing each subsystem in depth.

As suggested by Wolter (1973, p. 14), the Alpha-values and Beta-

values were obtained by means of surveys given to various expert eval-

uators (all of whom, for the purpose of this study, resided in Tortola).

The three subject areas of agriculture, commerce and light industry, and

: 0-120, adjacent to coast.

: 130+, extending inland to 250'contour line.

: 230+, above 250' contour line.

: 0-220, above 500' contour line.

: Road Town and East End/Long Look, as

defined by Anderson (1973).

: not considered in OASYS Program.

: not considered in OASYS Program.

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ftftV t if f t t t tftftf V ftftf f f f -*.P1f f P 44 ft44 4 4ftP.4 f 4 tftftf
Piaf *4jt~ fV~tf~ltfftlEV,.VftnpftV fnfftnffttf 444'f4*t4:fftnf
Pyfttflfftfttftfftfttmfttfttftf ftfftftftV~tftfftfft ftftfftftrftctftfftf
pgl~ I.f f t tftf f t )ftf f t tftf f t tftf f t tftf f t tftf f t tV.f f f f t tftf
II Itffttfft~ffttpftt.ftn tffttf ffttnftnfftfttffttfcfVtn t
ftttffffV.PfffffPffftttltlrf. ftftftfttnlftnfftftftf

ftVhll ft4Vl--- ft ft .. ftftftft r h L ~Rr ~ nnnr ~ nn,,:~~~
N~n~nr~~r*~nnrrr ~ (-,fffffffffffffffffffft lnI
9~1~~aR~PPV.PIP~nV.V. .P.----ftP,,ftftVV.V.V~ft
~~~~~~~-tLtttttff ft -- -I IftnIII l ,rIrrrftftftP. n rlna rr r l I~
ftP ftftftftftfft ftftftftft- I ftftftftftf
NN~r:~n~~~l""""A. iR~ pI ftftftft.. ft~nIjftp..-I
nnnnII~~~~~~f ftftft..n~~n~nn~n~,nn
**~nn~n h ~n~n on 14l~l~, n~. Irr Ir


,_ |

ft i .. 1..
4 i fP. A

r n f -
*, ftif-..
*rfr.r ft
nrin n

'=-" I
nm* 4
inr< n
ft 4 ft f4
t fntn

n nn

I ftfttdf
n *" n
FtFt4n 4f

It 444' Vi

-n*nn n -

- P.nftl I

Coastal lowland

Coastal rocky area

Inland slopes

Interior upland

Urban area

Sea Cliff


rr rr
ftff tfPPp
nn, fr ,

ft 4, 4- C ft V f V.
444m 4 4- ft t nP.
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V. V f Ift 4 f VP ft V.

f < t V P r 4 i*C 4

ftftftftf t ,4 444
V. tfriftn4 44 4 4
V ftttt 4cr.. '* *< "

ft ft ft | ft."" P/

i i i I II I
pr igg i I

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ft. ftft4/ I I i I
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ft M ftftf I
ftfnfttft <*i
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- i Ji i
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4 ft nt rV 4 ft f

4 rtf pn ft.
fr.n irnr

ft '2' ft ft tf tV
m r rn

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ft I ftftfftf

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I Itftlftft
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ft ftd ft

I n
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fs rj -.
ftft ft -.P .f
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Ft V.nn f r fp s. ft ft
4ftfV.Pff .Offt ftnr d> M i r
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fnrf nntftftf(ftV ni i-... ftV- VV. Vf.

C r, V V V V V V V V...n. ..n r r l A

C* rftdcVftV*ftftftftft, fr, tP ftf t| tfti ftf|ftV

**n ., nni- r i- ** i'j *^
-n f* nrj -
44 I4V.VtftfnV.--ft-tl ftEftfft
44' ~ ~ C3tnf4ft.--ftVPS. .~

ftfttft4 f *VftfttV.~ftV.n ft I I r,

fP iftft r*4 ft ftPftb rf li-
ft4*4cftftP,, Vt VtI E
ftVftq4.......,ftftft I

.fttP~tft,- -- ftfftt
ftftftftftftftft-r3- t,. iPP
Pn~~ftV.P.-n~hl fttIffVV,* .tPp1f
I fV.Pft.ftf..ffttP ft-ft ~fth
f-ftftPIP-~~ft- tP'

.ftftftV- I p.S-ft
fttd~f I IrtCf

P' V J ft V.0 f
ftr, V. V f V ft, ft V.
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ft44 44 ft tft

V, V f ft ft _

ft.'2.ft I ft I | t
'i i pi n tfPI

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*1 l I1



r, r,
ft- fu ft P.P

II I -

f --I ,1 -,, 1 n

r< n

1:65,000 ss


1 1

1 0


Figure 2: OASYS Systems, Tortola


fti P. ft rd

P. ftftfftf ftii

** 4 44 t V

444 nf l* "

44 44 fii r, ft

444ft4V ft

-r ft ft ft

iJn ;: P-P
j rnI.n*
- ^fjnri


Table 1: Systems, Subsystems, and Parameters


Coastal lowland

Coastal rocky areas

Inland slopes

Interior upland

Urban Regions


Natural Vegetation



Resort housing




Vegetation (existing)


Water supply


Proximity to urban

Size of land pro-


Proximity to the sea


Power supply

Perceived tourism

lastly hotel, resort housing and developed recreational areas, were

addressed in separate questionnaires (see Appendices IV, V and VI). The

Gamma-values, on the other hand, were obtained by means of a survey

questionnaire distributed to the general public (Appendix II). In order

to test the hypothesis, that different culture groups perceive an

environment and its utilization in different ways, the questionnaire was

designed to enable separate Gamma-values to be designated for each group.

All three values were assigned a rating scale of one-to-nine, as used in

the CASAT technique. In Bowers' OASYS program, and as utilized by Wolter

(1973), the rating scale was modified to one of one-to-ten; this scale

was not used, however, since it lacked a mid-way, neutral rating.

The parameter data types were mapped on an 80 x 146 grid, covering

the whole of Tortola at a scale of 1:35,000. Each grid cell represented

an area of approximately 90 x 145 meters. Only those cells representing
the actual land surface of Tortola were entered into the land use

allocation process. Furthermore, already built-upon areas were excluded

from consideration, since they could still be occupied by the same

structures in twenty years' time; in contrast, culture group perceptions

over that length of period could easily change with the coming of a new

generation, thus negating any of the technique's findings. The system's
"urban region," therefore, comprises all land not bearing structures but

within a predominantly urbanized area.

As a postscript, it should be noted that since the OASYS method
weights parameters individually, it assumes that the latter are indepen-

dent of one another. Hopkins (1977, p. 392) has contended, however, that

certain parameters are at least partially interdependent -- for example,

vegetation, rainfall and soils. While the author agrees with this

statement, the application of the linear combination method in this

particular study may be defended in that the author did not wish to

impose his judgement of interrelationships upon the perceptions of the

culture groups and expert evaluators. Although the initial selection of

parameters was a value judgement on the part of the author's, their

importance with regard to land utilization was solely and deliberately

determined by survey responses.

Organization of Study

Selected physical characteristics of Tortola are discussed in

Chapter II. Chapter III presents a summary of the economic and

demographic history of the island, including the recent development of

tourism. Chapter IV examines some of the ramifications of tourism growth

on the physical and demographic base, as well as upon Tortola's

infrastructure. The survey design that was utilized for the study and the

research results are presented in Chapter IV. These results are compared

with those of previous studies pertaining to the development of tourism

in Tortola in Chapter VI. Finally, the study's conclusions are presented

in Chapter VII.

1. A 'tourist' is generally defined as a visitor who stays for at least
24 hours (Matley, 1976, p. 2). This definition has been utilized in
the past by IUTO (now named ITO -- International Tourist Organiza-

2. Economic growth is not necessarily synonymous with development. One
of the best definitions of 'development' that the author has
encountered was proffered by participants during the seminar
Alternate Tourism Perspectives:

the creative manipulation of an environment by the
peoples of that environment for their own benefit. It
involves participation in all decision-making processes
and some degree of equity in the distribution of the ben-
efits. It is a humanizing process which requires the
positive participation of the people in determining their
destiny. It must include the increase in the power of
the community and that of the individuals in the commun-
ity. It may in the long run include economic growth, but
not at the expense of social cohesion. (1973, not published)
3. Tourism arrivals in the Commonwealth Caribbean doubled between 1962
and 1968 -- from 830,700 to 1,716,000, respectively (Bryden, 1973,
p. 100) -- and increased to approximately 2.4 million by 1975
("Caribbean Tourist Statistics, 1975", 1977).

4. The report, Hotels and Tourism in Westminister (1972), remarked:

The major clusters of converted hotels are situated in
primarily residential areas and are within designated
conservation areas.. The level of hotel activity in these
areas has led to considerable loss of amenity to remain-
ing long-term residents, through vehicular obstruction,
high traffic flows, lack of parking space because of the
competition from hotel guests and staff, and late-night
activity and noise caused by hotels themselves and by
associated uses such as restaurants and clubs. In many
cases, the use has a greater adverse impact on the
environment than the visual effect of the hotel
buildings. (quoted in Young, 1973, p. 122)
5. Through numerical indexing, the CASAT technique is capable of
offering more parameter zones of classification than the earlier
graphic method, since the latter is restricted to the number of
separate shades that can be easily discerned. McHarg (1969), for
example, limited parameter classes to three in his highway routing


The purpose of this chapter is to present a broad overview of the

physical parameters that were utilized in the OASYS model. These includ-

ed soils, slope, water supply and vegetation. Although representing the

more natural intrinsic elements of Tortola, a majority of the parameters

have been modified to a greater or lesser extent by man's actions; almost

all of the island's original natural vegetation, for example, has been

removed, with consequent changes in certain of the soil characteristics.

Also, the water supply provided by annual rainfall has been supplemented

in urban areas by the tapping of underground reserves. Before each of

these parameters can be discussed, however, and as a general introductory

note, the location and size of the Territory and the study area of

Tortola are outlined below.

Location and Size
In total, the British Virgins archipelago comprises over sixty
islands, islets, rocks and cays which straddle latitude 180 25' N and

longitude 64 30' W. Located on the eastern extremity of the Greater

Antilles submarine ridge and separated from the Lesser Antilles by the

deeper water of the Anegada Passage, the Islands are approximately 60

miles (100 km) east of Puerto Rico, 1,700 miles (2,700 km) southeast of

New York and about 3,800 miles (6,100 km) southwest of Great Britain.


The Territory is distributed naturally in four groupings situated
around the shallow Sir Francis Drake's Channel, in the general form of a

wishbone (see Figure 3). To the south are located a series of islands

and cays, extending northeast from the larger United States Virgin Island

of St. John for some twenty miles and terminating in the island of Virgin

Gorda. To the north of the channel and parallel to the southern group

lie the islands of Great Thatch, Tortola, Beef and Great Camanoe, with

the smaller Dog Days stretching toward northern Virgin Gorda. To the

northwest of Tortola and separated by another, smaller channel are

located the Tobago Cays and Jost Van Dyke. Lastly, Anegada forms an

isolated fourth unit lying approximately 14 miles (22 km) north of Virgin

Gorda and 19 miles (31 km) northeast of Tortola.

Tortola is the largest island in the archipelago with an area of 21
square miles (54 km2), equivalent to 35 percent of the Territory's

total land area of 59 square miles (153 km2). Somewhat resembling a

prone seahorse in shape, the island is 10 miles (16 km) in length and

with a maximum width of slightly over 3.5 miles (5.6 km). General

characteristics of Tortola are portrayed in Figure 4.

Geology, Topography and Soils
Described as possessing the most rugged form of all the Virgin
Islands (Meyerhoff, 1926, p. 84), Tortola rises to a maximum elevation of
1,710 feet (521 m) in Mount Sage, and much of its interior upland is in

excess of 1,000 feet (300 m). It is generally impossible to cross from

shore to shore without ascending nearly 1,200 feet (365 m), since no

transverse valley or pass dissects the undulating central ridge of the

island. The intermittent streams drain laterally off the flanks and

slopes of the ridge and fall abruptly to the sea and narrow coastal flats.














urban area ,
major road
secondary road ,,, .-, -
major trigonometrical station L
minor trigonometrical station vC..* V \'" ." "
ghut c3.3 V.
Scr ale: 165,00
's "", I ", ....... "
C A. G7 -. Aos 1263 *
", sr F~r Nor A
*VIa Ms- t s r PA-",A kAY uc s d
/ / r- ;'"! 'l
.... .. *.":; "I11*-, ** '. *:, / i )."
,I.| y OAO TO W
i l .ROAD

Yjle **<* y Pome

r Scale: 1:65,000

1 0 .
1_===L -= -

1 0 1


Figure 4: Base Map of Tortola





Tortola's harsh relief and irregular shoreline are the result of a
turbulent and oft-changing geologic history. The oldland comprises com-

plex mass folded stratified surface volcanics, thin limestone sediments

and hypabyssal volcanic intrusions, cut by massive dioritic intrusives

(Meyerhoff, 1926, p. 89). The rocks record a period of extensive volcan-

ism, many of whose explosive products were redistributed and stratified

in a shallow sea. During periods of volcanic quiescence, thin fossili-

ferous limestones were deposited. Although Donnelly (1960) asserts that

part of the oldland is Lower Cretaceous in age, most authors concur that

it probably falls within the Upper Cretaceous zone (Helsey, 1968; Kemp,

1926; Martin-Kaye, 1959; Mather, 1971; Quin, 1907).

The limestone accumulation was terminated at the close of the Eocene
period by, respectively, folding, intrusion and faulting (Donnelly, 1966,

p. 4). Meyerhoff (1926, p. 89) also suggests uplift, though this may

well have occurred at the time of faulting. The resulting range of

complex mountains was reduced through subsequent fluvial erosion to an

imperfect peneplane, as indicated by the relatively level summits of the

central ridge of Tortola. As may be noted in Figure 4, many of the

maximum elevations in central portions of the island range from 1,000

feet (300 m) to 1,400 feet (430 m) only.

Whereas Davis (1926) places the Virgin Islands in general in the
first cycle of erosion, Kemp (1926, p. 66) and Meyerhoff (1926, p. 68)

place them in the second cycle. According to the latter author, the

first cycle was interrupted by an uplift of between 700 and 750 feet (200

and 230 m.), and the second cycle reduced all but the central cores of

the present larger islands to a surface in late mature or old age

dissection. Again, an uplift of approximately 500 feet (150 m)

rejuvenated the streams, which cut into the second erosion cycle and

resulted in the formation of larger valleys with a marked discordance in

gradient at elevations ranging from 300 to 400 feet (90 to 140 m).

Secondary submergences brought the waterline within five to six

fathoms of its present position, drowning the dissected coastal plain and

leaving above sea level only a few ridges and cuestas, which were rapidly

planed by wave action. The growth of barrier reefs occurred around

portions of the platform's margin. Lastly, further submergence brought

the water level to its approximate present-day position.

The features of drowning exhibited in much of Tortola's shoreline

are primarily the direct outcome of the last upward movement of the

strandline. This movement occurred long enough ago to produce the

present-day alluvial filling of the heads of habor digitations (Baynes,

1970, p. 2; Vaughan, 1916, p. 58) and the sea cliffs at the end of

promontories. A classic example of this apparent anomaly of immature

headland cliffs juxtaposed with obviously mature spurs and valleys is

found in the Coxheath area of southwestern Tortola, where the valley is

flanked on its seaward side by cliffs occasionally attaining 250 feet

(76 m) in height.

The natural division of the islands into two parallel groups is the

direct expression of the underlying structure. On the north and south

exist broad strips of massive pyroclasts and shallow intrusives in which

structural control of the surface forms is lacking; in the center occur

thin-bedded sediments and tuffs, indifferently resistant to erosion.

Meyerhoff describes the result of such a formation:

Physiographically, the weakness of the sediments is most
significant. An easy prey to fluvial erosion, they have been
readily excavated into aligned subsequent valleys, which by
submergence have formed the line of channels separating the
northern and southern island groups.(1926, p. 97)


Within the bordering channel area the surface forms, shorelines and

arrangement of the islands are dominated by the geological structure.

They comprise steeply dipping sediments (often in excess of 450), and the

cays and peninsulas are elongated from east to west in the direction of

the strike, such as in the instance of Frenchman's Cay. According to

Meyerhoff (1926, p. 99), there is the apparent existence of a strong

northwest-southeast fracture system, resulting in many of the ravines

which dissect the upland to run in a concordant alignment.

The existing geological formation of Tortola is shown in Figure 5.

Massive eruptives and shallow intrusives, including unstratified or

crudely stratified coarse agglomerates, are prominently developed in

northern Tortola, as shown in various cliff and other sections between

Cane Garden and Josias Bay (Baynes, 1970, p. 2; see Figure 6). These

types are characteristically massive and have weathered alike, irrespec-

tive of their various structures and attitudes. They contain no quartz,

and weather rapidly by chemical decomposition rather than by disintegra-

tion (Meyerhoff, 1926, p. 93). The topographic forms produced by erosion

in all of the rocks in this division are alike; they bevel the structure

indiscriminately. The young valleys cut into the upland are deep and

V-shaped, while in the more mature valleys -- of which there are few --

the forms are normally well-rounded.

The deep-seated igneous intrusives are also massive in character and

include a structureless aggregate of plutonic types, with a wide range in

composition and texture. They occur as sporadic injections in south-

western Tortola, but the most extensive areas outcrop in the eastern

segment of the island and on adjacent Beef Island. The erosional forms

assumed by this type of rock are strikingly distinctive wherever it is

found in bodies large enough to exert an influence on the topography. On

Scale: 1:70,000

I--1 .- .
1 0 1


'A -"


Sedimentary Rocks:

RECENT Alluvium -- valley fill and mangrove
( Coarse andestic pyroclastics and limestone
MIDDLE )jj Coarse andesitic pyroclasts and breccias
EOCENE Bedded crystal tuffs
UPPER Limestone
CRETACEOUS ( Thin bedded tuffaceous wackes

Igneous Rocks:
*.7 Granite rocks -- predominantly quartz diorite

Figure 5: Geology of Tortola (modified after Mather, 1971)

Figure 6: Tortola's North Shore. Uniform erosion is
indicated, together with signs of rejuvenation -- for
example, the presence of mature spurs with abutting
headland cliffs.

Figure 7: Crystalline Limestone Formation, South-West
Tortola. This resistant rock has weathered to form a
steeply inclined ridge, portraying piton characteristics.

Beef Island, for example, diorite has decomposed through spheroidal

weathering along the joints, resulting in a tumbled mass of large

boulders. In general, the igneous rocks offer weak resistance to

weathering, and in some instances underlie more recent alluvial deposits

in coastal lowland areas (Meyerhoff, 1926, p. 95).

The largest group of rocks in area extent is that of the thinly
stratified volcanics and sedimentary rocks. The former comprise coarse

andesitic pyroclastics, whereas the sediments include thinly stratified

tuffs and shales. Interspersed with these, however, are at least three

limestone members of two different varieties: one, a dense lime mud; the

other, a massive crystalline limestone. The topographic forms produced

by these sediments conform with their structure. The crystalline lime-

stone, usually dark grey though occasionally white, extends from Coxheath

to West End in Tortola, forming a ridge above the surrounding levels.

The other sediments generally constitute the weakest division of the rock

groups (Meyerhoff, 1926, p. 95).

Lastly, surficial deposits are found in scattered locations around

the shoreline of Tortola. They include valley fill and alluvium, and are

of restricted extent laterally, occurring in the flats of the more

important ghuts and valley bottoms such as in Huntums Ghut, Road Town.

According to Baynes (1970, p. 2), these deposits occasionally attain a

thickness of up to 100 feet (30 m) near the shoreline, but become

increasingly shallow inland.

As depicted in Figure 8, the surface of most of inland Tortola has a
slope in excess of 23. More gentle slopes usually are confined to the

coastal areas of alluvial deposits, although the central ridge of the

island displays its rounded topography, with moderate slopes of 130 to

220 frequently encountered.



1. 0 120 ::::
2. 13 220
3. 23 30 -
4. 31 450 :. ..
5. >450
S: r. T .r

Scale: 1:65,000
.........-.- ; -- ...-. o... .........
.. .. .. ........... ............... N .. .'o-. :"- -

*. ."- I

P N .0 1
--::. .....,.., --::: ~.o-- J .. ....... .. .,.. ----- _----, -- ....

.. ,r --
.. -.... --- KILOMETERS
2 7

~~~~~~~~~ 0-.- %%.~.- u n---. N N P. N P
''P1- -..'~.4.%*.NNJ.N. NF.P- -u0 1..- p-- ."P .p.
S, .44NP..'.PP. .p. - -P.NNP.PP~pK-- - -

Figure 8: Parameter Slope


According to the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office

report for 1974, the Islands' soils have never been studied in detail,

but are described as shallow, friable and permeable brown loams, with

frequent outcrops of bare rock. They are generally young, immature and,

in the opinion of the above report, "probably the rockiest and stoniest

in the world" (1975, p. 61).

The simplified classification of soil types utilized for the OASYS

program (depicted in Figure 9) were derived from the soil survey under-

taken by Baynes in 1970. He concluded that the dominant soil forming

factors are parent material and relief (1970, p. 8). Generally, the

soils contain a large quantity of sand particles, little silt and various

amounts of kandoid clays. Soils tend to be shallow, usually stony,

friable, well-drained, and range in reaction from slightly acid (pH 6.5)

to strongly alkaline (pH 8.8). Most of the soils are base-saturated and

many contain quantities of free calcium carbonate. On a whole, the soils

are expected to be phosphate-deficient with a moderate to low potassium

status (Baynes, 1970, p. 10).

Baynes broadly divided the soil types into two categories -- those

of the steep hills and mountains, and those associated with coastal flats

and valleys. The former cover over 80 percent of the island and -- as

noted earlier in this chapter -- are derived from a variety of parent

The soils over the dioritic and other intrusions occurring mainly in

the eastern end of the island have developed under low rainfall condi-

tions, as indicated by the xerophytic nature of the vegetation typical of

the area. A stony and shallow soil, with a depth of about 15 inches (38

an), clings tenaciously to the area's steep slopes which occasionally






---- .
I* ''' ft I "; r

1 tftft1 f tC nt r.Cf .f t .r i a! ni i.f | ||-.f -
I1~~~~~~~ ~ ~ ~ Il i^.hhrn r, rr .P -h--r* rn
I h h h h nI hr hr Ih h I r.r r, i^ T.f,~ -

ft) N N
NI N N NN NNfttff N.

N I N CJ N M Nw N :N
mN t ( NON(( fN-. t

I .NN Nt N. f. I fN f t f tit f tft ftU f t <

-t f P ftf ftrN r.fMtt f f N ft *N N NN. F I FN--NCltff f I f f f t t f t tt

Sp iN t N N N N N N 1 | ) -
N N I I I (W I N z z M M N N N N (
'C N fl N ftfftfftfftft N tuftt
.........f.... NN -t N N N Nft It f I I | t F..... N N Nftttfff-ff ( ( 4

IIr i'j rj i^Ni rjni 'i j|| I N N M CI N | M N -N -I
f.Mft t, f t F h t. f | | Nt f f N N N N N( N I .f t f ttfftl N f N N N- f f N fNNt -N
C. r..sI.ftftC f.C.nF r, rr .. F Ji f ( f ttttttt ftgg fNt AI | Nt ff tft- Nd i N N N N N Nf tf

SI t N '*N N N N Nf t ftft f t f Nff N N -N f i N N N IN N t N N Nf 4 -4 4 44
SfFC N .. If ftftt N ft N f tf t f t N f N N N fl tf f f f f f f f N t f tfftt f tff t N N 4 44 4444S4

NNfff fttNNCfCtfNftttI ftttt. ....... 72 N ,

C....- .%.ftftNftft NftftCNftftftft N-ft f ftftftftftN ft N Nft f Nft ftf N- --- -4

.. .,o fN, NNfN iNNNN I I II NNNNN NNN- ft .. .
i'*ftl I .. ...ftNpftftftftN i




> ^,- -
, -.- _
* 4 I itll44
..... 44
l44l4 444


4 4 4-4444

.44" <

4. ..-l

Scale: 1:65,000



0 1


Figure 9: Parameter Soils

, i s I r" *'.

-* o n, ,P n r. '.f
r fjI rsi '^ r, I FJ
IIr.rur rrr^ '* "'*

i^ Ir ^* r, i. r. l

., r ,n .. ... ; n.
''jh r.r> ^,n. r fj

- r, -h ** -

- f r. *
r ---^rC~'



attain an angle of 45. A site examined by Baynes (1970, p. 10) just to

the north of the settlement of Long Look portrayed a dark reddish topsoil

of sandy loam texture, overlying a red subsoil colluvium with seams of

calcium carbonate. Results of a mechanical analysis of the topsoil

indicated 38 percent coarse sand, 33 percent fine sand, 9 percent silt

and 18 percent clay. The soil sample reflected a low phosphate status,

and a saline sub-soil was suggested.

Soils overlying a range of volcanic or partially volcanic parent
material form by far the greatest of the island-'s surface. Because of

the geological complexity of the area, however, the soils vary consid-

erably. In the extreme north of the island, for example, where pyro-

clastic agglomerative parent material occurs, mechanical analysis showed

a preponderance of coarse sand (46 percent), 23 percent fine sand, 12

percent silt and 18 percent clay. In comparison, the corresponding

percentages for soils on the southern slopes were 34, 27, 15, and 22

percent, respectively (Baynes, 1970, p. 11). Even in the southern por-

tion of the island, the soils varied: those over massive rock displayed

a Reddish Brown topsoil, having a sandy loam texture and overlying a

Reddish Yellow subsoil, whereas soils over colluvial material -- such as

around Road Town -- were of a yellowish red sandy clay overlying a red

subsoil showing increased alkalinity with depth (Baynes, 1970, p. 14).

Soils of the coastal flats and valleys are extremely limited in
extent and are of colluvial-alluvial types. They sharply reflect the

surrounding hills from which they were developed; for example, the

Coxheath soil is strongly alkaline in nature as a result of the parent

material of the Towers Limestone formation.


Climate and Water Supply
The British Virgin Islands lie within the Trade Wind belt and

possess a subtropical climate. Average temperatures in winter vary

between 710F and 82*F (220C and 28C), seldom dropping below 670F (19C).

In the summer, the temperatures fluctuate between 780F (260C) and 88F

(31C). Sea breezes temper the summer heat, and usually there is a drop

in temperature of up to 100F (60C) at night.

Squalls are fairly common at certain times of the year, and mild

storms are occasional. Hurricanes occur infrequently; the last one to

cause extensive damage struck Tortola in 1924. There is, however, a

theoretical risk of a serious hurricane occurring on average about once

every 24 years (Baynes, 1970, p. 4).1

Typically, Tortola experiences both a marked dry as well as a wet

season. The dry season generally includes the months of February through

April, although in some years it may also include the months of December

and January. If, however, long troughs extending southward from cyclones

of the middle latitudes are prevalent, then these'latter two months tend

to be wet (Stone, 1942, p. 60). By February, in most years, the dry

season has obviously arrived. March characteristically is the driest

month, with the subtropical North Atlantic high pressure system stretch-

ing far to the southwest. At this time, according to Stone:

S. the moist unstable surface layers in which the trade-
wide cumulus clouds form are [almost] constantly overlaid by
a warm dry, stable layer This trade inversion
layer generally prevents any convection originating in the
surface layers from reaching high enough to produce any
showers. (1942, pp. 57, 61)

Towards the end of April there is a likelihood of heavy showers, but the

spring rains usually begin in earnest in May. Increased heating of the

land surface "forces the convection to penetrate the trade inversion


occasionally with resulting intense showers" (Stone, 1942, p. 65). By

the month of June, the stability aloft is still marked, but instability

in the lower layers is usually less pronounced than in the preceding

month. Generally, the greatest water deficiency occurs in June and July

(Stone, 1942, p. 74).

Rain during the latter part of the year is brought by easterly

waves, which are troughs of low atmospheric pressure forming on the

northern edge of the Intertropical Convergence Zone and moving slowly

along it in a westerly direction. They bring with them rainy or overcast

weather lasting from a few hours up to several days. This weather

pattern usually persists until November, producing the rainy.season for

the Territory. If one of the easterly waves is particularly active, a

hurricane may develop.

In a report which he edited, Bowden considered that of the northwest

Virgin Islands, the rainfall of Tortola "is by far the most conjectural"

(1970, p. 17). Rainfall, never copious, apparently has diminished over

the last few decades: during the period 1901 to 1951, the average annual

precipitation for Road Town was approximately 53 inches (135 cm), whereas

over the longer period 1901 to 1974 the corresponding figure dropped to

48 inches (122 cm; Howell and Towle, 1976). The concept of mean average

rainfall, however, is of limited value in the British Virgin Islands; in

1933, for example, the total rainfall was 94 inches (239 cm), whereas in

1973 it was only 31 inches (79 cm). In addition, the monthly distribu-

tion is uneven: in 1974, of a total rainfall of 53 inches (135 cm)

recorded in Road Town, 83 percent fell in the last five months of the

year (British Virgin Islands, Agricultural Department, 1975).2

The amount of rainfall received by areas outside of Road Town is

subject to some speculation. In the British Virgin Islands Physical


Development Plan (United Nations Development Programme, 1976, p. 8), it

was estimated that rainfall averages about 40 inches (102 cm) in coastal

areas, but that the more mountainous areas receive over 70 inches (178

cm) per annum. Beard (1949, p. 175) premised that rainfall in the Mount

Sage area could possibly exceed 80 inches (203 cm). As mentioned by

Bowden, however, (1970, p. 14), Beard's estimates were based on compari-

son with similar heights in Tobago, which generally experience a wetter

rainfall regime. In Bowden's opinion, Mount Sage generally receives a

lower amount -- possibly 60 to 65 inches (152 to 165 cm) with much of

the mountain ridge experiencing an average annual rainfall of between 55

and 60 inches (140 and 152 cm). In the drier, lowland, eastern areas of

the island, he estimated that rainfall probably is less than 40 inches

(102 cm), and on Beef Island even below 35 inches (89 cm; 1970, p. 14).

Since they were the most comprehensive available to the author, Bowden's

estimates were used for inclusion in the OASYS program, and are shown in

Figure 10.

Any practical interpretation of the annual rainfall estimates for

Tortola should take into account the fact that a large proportion of the

rain falls in light showers and brief sprinkles:

Many of these light rains are measured in the rain gauges and
they augment the total rainfall out of proportion to their
significance for crop growth and for vegetation, because they
barely wet the vegetation and the top of the soil and do not
sink into it, and so are quickly evaporated by sun and wind.
(Stone, 1942, p. 27)
Moreover, when rainfall occurs in short, heavy showers during the wet

season, the runoff is so rapid that the soil receives little moisture.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Stone wrote:

the roughly 45 inches of measured average annual rain-
fall in the Virgin Islands is by no means the equivalent for
plant growth of 45 inches of measured precipitation in rainier


1. < 35" per annum ,,.

2. 35 39" per annum '.:
3. 40 44" per annum

4. 45 49" per annum s::: -
5. 50 54" per annum ... ...
6. 55 60" per annum ....... 0 00:;0.:;

7. > 60" per annum
8. served by water mains :.... ?-:; ; *...
i. : i ji ir
4 1 Z' 00 4 0 .0

44II 4 4 ." 0. 0 0
p. . .- p.,4

S44','?,~ i~ .44.14.O,. 44004.
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Sca',e: 1:65,000
S 1:65 ,00
L~51 ~ I 11---

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Scale: 1:65,000


.1 0 1

1 0 1


Figure 10: Parameter Rainfall (after Bowden, 1970)


parts of the West Indies or in the southern United States.
(1942, p. 30)

Water Supply

As a consequence of the varying rainfall, large fluctuations in

ground water reserves occur. The latter are held mostly in the Upper

Cretaceous and Eocene bedrock and within superficial deposits, whereas

within the stratified metamorphosed volcanic rocks they occur only in

fractures and joints (Mather, 1971). Research undertaken by Jordan

(1966) in St. Thomas suggests that water recharge to the bedrock may

occur only once or twice each year as the result of a downfall of over 2

or 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) within a 24-hour period. Less heavy rainfall is

dissipated by run off, evaporation and soil intake, although alluvial

aquifers are partially recharged.

The limited ground water that exists may become contaminated during

times of drought because of the high saline content of the bedrock. In

addition, the ground water in the eastern parts of Tortola appears to be

connected to the adjacent sea water, and overpumping could cause saline

water intrusion. On Beef Island, reserves of potable water have yet to

be discovered (Howell and Towle, 1976).

For most of the island's residents, the limited ground water

reserves pose no particular threat to their water supply, since rainfall

catchment systems such as cisterns and drums primarily are relied
upon.3 In the major urban settlement of Road Town, however, which is

served by the island's only mains system, the efficacy of these reserves

is important. Three main wells produce approximately 100,000 to 150,000

gallons per day (380,000 to 570,000 1), which is usually sufficient for

the inhabitants' needs. During periods of prolonged drought, however,

the quantity of water remaining in the alluvial aquifer can become so

reduced as to necessitate the rationing of water.4 According to the

United Nations' Physical Development Programme (1976, p. 13), it is

projected that the total supply for an extended main system to serve both

Road Town and East End/Long Look will eventually approximate 400,000

gallons (1,500,000 1) per day; it can be anticipated, however, that a

general scarcity of water will continue to be one of the island's

greatest physical limitations to the future development of tourism.

Vegetative Cover
Owing to Tortola's low rainfall and poor, permeable soils, its

endemic vegetation is naturally xerophytic in character. Once extensive

forests have almost totally been removed, either because of clearing for

agriculture pursuits, for timber supply or for the manufacture of

charcoal (United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1976 p. 59).

The resulting landscape is one primarily comprising secondary woodland

and scrub and rough pasture, as denoted in Figure 11. According to

estimates by the United Nations' Physical Development Programme (1976,

p. 11.4), of the island's total area of 14,636 acres (5,923 ha) some 33

percent presently is in scrub, 36 percent in pasture and arable land, 27

percent in woodland, 3 percent in mangrove, and less than 1 percent is

classified as "urban."

Packer (1973) identified three broad zones of vegetation that are

characteristic to the island. The first is contained in the littoral

region, which is generally rocky and cliffy in nature, but diversified by

occasional beaches and salt swamps. Along the rocky stretches, the steep

slopes support thickets of mixed thorn scrub, conspicuous among which are
the stubby, pale bark tree, Pisonia subcordata, and the reddish, papery

barked Bursera simaruba. In addition, the white flowered indigenous


1. Cultivated oN nSI
2. Scrub : ...
3. Woodland L r N ^
n~lh S%--~-hn------
4. Forest 0. n.. : Z- 2 1 7CE
5. Mangrove s :,'---nn:: -o E E E^EE
C K A r* 0 ^*n ---- ----- ---- ----rftp-- -- -rn -_------C riiM"NfifiC
6. Bare rock = ..
hhhh l ~~--N~--- -----N
OB D d r c r uii ------------------ -^-- -"^-"-"-"------ '--^"-'
iMK~~~~~--- -- --- -- -- -p--j-- -* i- -_- -i --I C --- i nn-
7. Beach z. z z-- --- -C -- -- .C. ... C-
8. Predominantly urban ... .
-I- Fi-- "- -i-'-- n- -

--N Cl N C. -------- -----n

S-- -~ i ^ r n r

=. rij-- I. -S1 .. ..i- -... ... .
------------- ------- -..N..S CN~C.C.N...n
CI -- *i I I -- -- ---N- -
*S-N.J- -I"---- SSU

---- ---- --- -- n----hh-h--r-~h- -...CN CCS

----1-"~-1-n----- --Ca-Nh~ C n',.- -c--h-- NN..

nnCJ NN niNNNNN-N CSn--- --- r NS

2C T C '4 7 2

Il N N
n- IN N NN N

. C NC 4 CN N nN S% fti NC.P
Cj .i .- .......NNN-N r .N .. nj.. -, S i:. ... ..N

- 1 i., N l N tr p Pi nIN r-. N a ^I N BI -- *^ r i fi -~ 1i
-n -.- C$NN i N Nrv" NN NNVN .NNC .N NN
-V..nNn....C.N~CaC. C. C ~ cV N NNNNNNC.NN ..Nn

I N A -l t r ) -- N l-- N N N 'I. CN *a Oi .. .

fN Nflfl n....) CV.* N N.NN .CSN NC NN

' ^^s = = O nnni iS^ sHA^ S3 ^^I-i-ls^

41 i in el 4- r I .nn ?,l~ *n1 NU M N N
-NSS....CInN..ffll..-.Ni ---N-N-N~h- C. ln
nn INN- C---N--N-------Nn ----ONN~Nh-NOIC
in C t -n r.nn- 0n.P -*( N--N'--- -"" ---- -nnN
*--N-1- F NI.*SVNr.*N~f N- ---NNCC N-'O NNC.S
I SNNtI---nCS.*Nn-N ---N nN NN~N.N Chr.%NC- n CInN
-CI- C CI.CVCI C.CSN..~r~r I~lC nNNC

S- NNC VNN nN---- m nN CN
I *-n.NP1CN C.nNnNCINNN^-N C C.-N~h hn.NN n N Nf NNNC.
itflCInN..... -NN..Cfl- -NI I SCCS hI~NN NY NNNC.C N NN
CNCI*N N ... NN- fN --- -C *l SNN nNN

NNNnfRL CINNCNnVNN~icl n 1C 5 00 0 N NI
-ON.NN 5-N n n-n-Nn IN- I.N...'NN CC. CNNN
I i. p. Ni I NN .- N -- N -gCN~n..CNN-fnCI~h NNNcN NCNCVCINNNNC

~NNNCI-~'- N Cn fl I- CVNCCN ScN NN1NNN:65,
C n nN NN

Scale: 1:65,000


1 0 1

1 0 1


Figure 11: Parameter Land Use, 1975


frangipani (Plumeria alba L.), together with various cacti such as

Opuntia aff ribescens are common.

The sandy beaches are often fringed by Coccoloba uvifera, the sea-

beam, Canavalia maritima, planted Cocos uvifera, Terminalia catappa and

coarse grasses, including Spartina patens. Associated with the salt

swamps and lakes are found small patches of stunted mangrove (Rhizophora

mangle spp and Avicenna germinans), although in the past many of these

areas have been sacrificed for land reclamation. In the raised, drier

areas around the salt lakes are found various cacti such as Cephalocereus

and Opuntia, as well as Agave karatto and Aloe Vulgaris.

The second vegetative zone distinguished by Packer occurs at medium

altitude, ranging from 200 to 1,000 feet (60 to 300 m). In the few areas

where the indigenous cover persists, as in the most eastern parts of Beef

Island, it is described as:

generally of rather dry aromatic thorn scrub, often
festooned with bromiliads above a few hundred feet, and
supporting purple ground orchids. (Packer, 1973, n.p.)
It is in this zone where agricultural pursuits generally have been most

prevalent, resulting in a highly diversified patchwork of scrub, pasture

and cultivated land, as depicted in Figures 12 and 13. Commonly, during
land clearing, some of the larger trees (such as Pisonia subcordata and

Bursera simaruba) are left standing. When the land is abandoned after a

few years of cultivation and reverts to bush, an invasive thicket fills

up between these trees. In drier, rockier areas, the initial thicket is

formed chiefly of croton bushes (mainly Croton rigidus), whereas in

moister areas the Asiatic shrub Leucaena glauca is more typical (United
Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1976, p. 59).

According to the 1961 Census of Agriculture -- the most recent

available -- approximately 4 percent of the total area of 8,683 acres



Figure 12: Upland Tortola. The highly disturbed,
checkerboard pattern of predominantly scrub and pasture is
characteristic of interior areas, even on steeply inclined
slopes as in center left of the photograph.

Figure 13: Field Rotation. Within an acre of land, newly
cultivated plots, pasture and fallow are all discernible.

(3,514 ha) then in agricultural holdings was in tree crops. 'This

proportion probably has not decreased significantly since that time, and

it is common to find such trees as mango (Mangifera indica), mamey

(Mammea americana), avocado pear (Persa americana), soursop (Annona

muricata), guava (Psidium guajava), pawpaw (Carica papaya), breadfruit

(Artocarpus altilis) and sugar apple (Annona squamosa) in isolated stands

or clustered along property lines.

A much greater proportion (55 percent) of all agricultural holdings

in 1961 were under cultivated or uncultivated grassland. Because of the

rapid decline in the livestock industry during the 1960's, however (as

discussed in Chapter III), a substantial proportion of this grassland has

since reverted to scrub. As noted by Baynes (1970, p. 7), some good

stands of Pangola grass (Digitaria decumbens stent) and Guinea grass

(Panicum maximum) may be found in areas where livestock raising still

It is interesting to note that even in 1961, when the Territory's

major export comprised agricultural commodities, the area utilized for

ground crops represented less than 3 percent of the land in agricultural
holdings in Tortola. It is doubtful whether this percentage has altered

much during the interim period, and small parcels producing root crops

(especially sweet potatoes and tannias), maize, guinea corn, field peas

and occasional plantings of sugar cane are dispersed along the central

ridge and steep flanks.

The third and final vegetation zone identified by Packer (1973)
occurs at high altitude and is generally restricted to the Mount Sage

area in western Tortola, although some of the larger tree species extend
into the medium altitude zone along the steep ghuts and intermittent

water courses. In the Mount Sage area are still preserved remnants of

the original, once extensive, xerophytic forest. The area extent of

this vegetative relict apparently has been fast decreasing until recent

years. In 1954, less than 100 acres (40 ha) of the forest (only a small

part of which was virgin) remained, whereas less than a decade previously

some 300 acres (120 ha) were reported to have existed (Wadsworth, 1954,

p. 2). By 1968, only about 13 acres (5 ha) of virgin forest were stand-

ing, although there were also a number of patches of thicket regrowth

(Willan, 1968, p. 13). Because of its demarcation as a forestry area in

1955 and subsequent protection, however, it appears that the forest area

since 1972 has stabilized and thicket regrowths are expanding (Howell and

Towle, 1976, n.p.).

The xerophytic forest vegetation probably is unique; certainly it

is claimed to have no counterpart elsewhere in the Virgin Islands, in

Puerto Rico or in the Lesser Antilles (Wadsworth, 1954, p. 10). Dominant

trees include bullet (Manillara bidentata) and bastard gri gri, or
"gregre" (Buchenavia capitata), although many of the former have

succumbed after logging activities in the area left them devoid of a

surrounding forest canopy and hence subjected them to total exposure of
the elements. Ashen, weathered trunks mark the landscape, decaying

testimonials to a once grander forest. The forest is composed of two

stories, the taller of which is about 60 feet (18 m) in height, with the

lower storey comprising a discontinuous layer of shade-loving species.

The buttressed trunks of the older trees support abundant bromeliads,

broad-leaved creepers and orchids (Packer, 1973, n.p.).

Since 1958, approximately 90 acres (35 ha) in the Mount Sage area
have been used for the planting of exogenous tree species for the pro-

duction of timber. The saplings have done surprisingly well, with a

survival rate of up to 85 percent in favored areas. Three mahoganies

t 62

have been introduced -- the West Indies mahogany (Swietenia mahogani),

the Honduras mahogany (S. macrophylla), and a putative hybrid of these

two species originating in St. Croix -- as well as the blue mahoe

(Hibiscus elatus). It is probable that future years will witness a

reafforestation of similar timber-producing trees in other areas of

upland Tortola.

It may be evident that Tortola's limited physical base does not lend

itself too kindly to large-scale forms of development. Its lean soils,

rugged topography and low rainfall delimit the possibilities not only for

the extensive pursuit of agriculture but also of tourism. Its severely

demanding attributes require the careful consideration of potential

alternative developments; any chosen development will have to be nurtured

to produce indigenous varieties capable of conforming with the physical

realities of the island.

1. Although not of a climatic character, the only other natural phe-
nomena capable of causing extensive damage are earthquakes. The
Territory does lie within an earthquake belt, and minor tremors are
felt frequently, but no serious earthquake damage has every been

2. During the author's study period of July, 1974, to June, 1975, the
total rainfall was 55.1 inches (140 an), but of this almost half
(22.6 inches or 57.5 on) fell during the two months of October and
November (British Virgin Islands, Agricultural Department, 1975).
3. A survey in 1971 found that 66 percent of all premises in Tortola
were served by a water cistern, 22 percent were served by drums and
only 11 percent utilized a main water supply (British Virgin Island,
Medical and Health Department, 1971).

4. In mid-July, and again in May, 1975, a periodic distribution of
water was introduced for a total of eleven hours each day, and
residents were asked to conserve their water. Ironically, upper
residential sections of Road Town have been subject to severe
flooding during the rainy season ever since the natural stormwater


channel that originally served the area was filled in at the time of
the construction of Wickhams Cay and replaced by artificial channels
following an altered course. Remedial drainage work occasionally
has been undertaken, but so far it has proved insufficient to
totally prevent periodic flooding.


Over the last three centuries the British Virgin Islands have

experienced marked economic and consequent demographic fluctuations.

Even at the height of it past economic prosperity, Tortola's natural

physical constraints proved to be inhibiting factors, mollifying the rich

rewards from slavery that occurred in more fortunately endowed West

Indian islands. An understanding of existing demographic trends and

economic problems besetting Tortola can be achieved only by an

acquaintance of the past history of the island.

Economic and Demographic History

Little is known of the original inhabitants of Tortola. Hatt (1924,

p. 31) postulated that the Virgin Islands' prehistory falls into three

periods: a postulated preceramic culture; an early ceramic culture

derived from the lesser Antilles; and a late ceramic culture derived from

the Greater Antilles.1 The last inhabitants were probably Taino, as

suggested by the few Arawak artifacts discovered in the Road Bay area and

at Cane Garden Bay (Howell and Towle, 1976, n.p.). Whatever their popu-

lation, the Amerindians apparently did little to disturb the environment

around them, and their settlements were transitory; in 1596, the Earl of

Cumberland described the islands as "wholly uninhabited, sandy, barren,

craggy" (quoted in Lewisohn, 1966, p. 7).
Post-Columbian Initial Occupance

Europe's discovery of the Virgin Islands has been traditionally

credited to Christopher Columbus, who passed by on his second voyage to

the New World. It has been suggested that the islands were given their

name of Las Virgines by Columbus, who apparently was reminded of St.

Ursula and her hapless 11,000 virgin followers put to death by the Huns

(Lewisohn, 1966, p. 5).

The Spaniards themselves appeared to be little interested in set-

tling Tortola, although they gave the island its name, which translated

means "land of the Turtle Dove." The first settlers were actually a

motley, multiracial band of pirates, who discovered that West End was an

ideal base for the purpose of marauding passing merchant ships (Lewisohn,

1966, p. 8).

The first permanent settlement on Tortola was undertaken in 1648 by

the Dutch, who became the island's first de facto owners. After eighteen

short years, however, a band of buccaneers, dubiously calling themselves

Englishmen, drove out the settlers, and with alacrity the Crown claimed

Tortola as a British possession (Lewisohn, 1966, p. 10). Short-lived

occupations by both French and British settlers followed, each usurping

the other, and it was not until the end of the 17th century that any

long-lasting colonization evolved.

The Plantation Era

After the British Virgin Islands as a whole were formally annexed to

the Leeward Islands in 1672, planters gradually made their way over from

Anguilla. As one contemporary writer stated:


This busy and industrious race of men were not deterred by the
amazing craggy rocks and towering mountains, without one river
and very few springs of good water. In a few years from the
incessant toil of these people, cotton and sugar-cane might be
seen flourishing from the sides of the mountains and in the
lowlands ginger was cultivated and indigo works appeared.
(Suckling, 1780, p. 4, quoted in Harrigan, 1971, p. 75)

By the time of the first Census in 1717, the initial importation of

African slaves to work the expanding plantations had already commenced.

According to that Census, the population for all the Islands comprised

795 whites and 547 blacks; by 1720, these numbers had increased to 1,122

and 1,509, respectively (Harrigan and Varlack, 1975, p. 193).

Throughout the 18th century, Tortola gradually increased its produc-

tion of cotton and sugar, resulting in some local prosperity. A report

in 1740 by a gentleman named Dinwiddie to the Lords Commissioners for

Trade and Plantations computed that the "natural and improved" annual

produce of Tortola in sugar, molasses, rum, cotton, lime juice, ginger,
indigo, coffee, aloes, pimentos, turtle shell, mahogany, timber and plank

amounted to the value of 30,000 pounds sterling (Jenkins, 1923, p. 95).

With increasing commercial production, the population also increased. By

1805, the Islands harbored 10,520 persons (1,300 whites and 9,220 blacks;

Harrigan and Varlack, 1975, p. 193) -- a population total not to be

surpassed until the 1970's.

The Slow Decline

Jerrard John Howard, ship's surgeon, described Tortola in 1793


well nigh the most miserable, worst inhabited spot in
all of the British possessions. Even this unhealthy
part of the globe appears overstocked with each description
of people except honest ones. (quoted in Lewisohn, 1966,
p. 53)


When he made his damning indictment, in fact, Howard was viewing Tortola

at the apex of its plantation prosperity. For, with the 19th century,

came creeping economic decline -- the outcome of prolonged wars and

disrupted markets, racial strife and frequent periods of drought. The

land had always been marginal for plantation agriculture, and Tortola

never had become even prosperous enough to arouse the serious envy of

neighboring European powers. Lewisohn considered that the estates were

unlike those on the larger, wealthier islands:

The wealthiest planters owned 1,000 slaves but there were
probably not more than a dozen truly rich planters on Tortola
and a dozen more who could qualify for the well-off bracket.
(1966, p. 95)

The capital to weather adverse economic trends was thus never accu-

mulated, and most estate families were ill-prepared to meet any serious


Disasters and crises in one form or another plagued the planter

ruling class with overwhelming frequency. The hanging in 1811 of a

wealthy planter, Arthur Hodge, for the murder of a slave was an act

unprecedented in the West Indies and, according to Harrigan, "race

relations were never the same again" (1971, p. 77). About the same time,

the islands suffered a severe drought -- so much so that scarcely one-

fifth of Tortola remained under cultivation by 1815 (Lewisohn, 1966,

p. 56). The drought, in turn, was followed in 1819 by the worst of a

number of hurricanes which caused extensive damage on Tortola. Many of

the planters thereafter gave up in despair and departed from the


some selling their estates, others losing them for
arrears of taxes, and still others becoming absentee land-
lords with local attorneys. (Lewisohn, 1966, p. 56)

In 1831, a slave plot to kill the white men was discovered, persuading

still more of the latter to leave; by 1834, only 477 whites remained on

the Islands (Harrigan and Varlack, 1975, p. 193).

Emancipation of the slaves in 1834 surprisingly changed relatively

little. The former slaves continued to work on the plantations, except

that they were now paid sixpence sterling a day in addition to their free

cottages, provision grounds and pastures for their stock (Lewisohn, 1966,

p. 57). Gurney (1840, p. 31) concluded that freedom "was working well in

Tortola," and pointed to the large decrease in crime that had occurred

since emancipation in 1834. Writing in the same year, however, Smith

observed: "They are free, it is true, but they are poor and indolent"

(1840, p. 79). Moreover, he continued:

S. in all probability the islands would be abandoned by
the planters in five years. I hardly met any individual who
was not disposed to remove to the United States. (1840, p. 79)

Certain of the island's inhabitants had already accepted the merits of

gaining their income elsewhere. Emissaries from Trinidad were luring the

peasantry to that country with promises of higher wages (Gurney, 1840,

p. 33). Also, people from the "African Location" (the inhabitants of

Kingstown, Tortola, who had been freed from slave ships by the British

Navy before being indentured) were finding more adequate wages in the

neighboring Danish possessions:

They go to the city of St. Thomas as servants, pick up a
little money, return home and remain idle until it is spent.
(Smith, 1840, p. 82)

This infant, transitory migration was to augur a similar, far greater

movement in the 20th century.

Of more serious economic consequence to the planters than emancipa-

tion was the passing of the Equalization Act in 1846, which abolished the


prohibitive and discriminatory duty hitherto levied on foreign sugar

entering Britain. The wage-paying sugar planter was thus exposed to the

competition of foreign slave-grown sugar. By 1850, there were few landed

estates in Tortola which were not heavily indebted to the Liverpool and

Bristol merchants who, before the coming of joint stock banks to the

Caribbean, had made advances to the planters against the security of

their crops.

The long-dying sugar industry eventually succumbed in 1853. A tax

imposed upon cattle -- almost all of which were peasant owned -- resulted

in a full insurrection, with the emptying and burning of greathouses, the

destruction of sugar fields and the demolition of the sugar works. In

panic, almost all of the remaining white population fled, and the land

gradually reverted to bush.

Peasant Subsistence

By 1860, the population had become a peasantry of former slaves

depending on the subsistence production of livestock, ground provisions

and fish, and so it persisted for the rest of the century. Many left the

Islands completely: in the 1901 Census, the population comprised only

4,908 persons, of which two were white -- the president and a doctor

(Harrigan, 1971, p. 78).

The fall of the British-controlled plantation agriculture, according

to Augelli (1956, p. 47), hastened the severing of the Islands' ties with

Britain. Their closest British neighbors -- Antigua, St. Kitts and

Anguilla -- lay well over a hundred miles away, and had little use for

the small surplus of cattle and the large surplus of labor that the

British Virgin Islands could offer. By 1900, the total export and import

trade amounted to 6,199 pounds sterling (Harrigan, 1971, p. 90), or just


over one pound five shillings sterling per inhabitant. An agricultural

report for the years 1906-7 aptly summarized the past century:

The history of the British Virgin Islands since 1815 has been
one almost uninterrupted record of retrogression and decay,
broken only for an instant by the exceptional situation caused
by the American Civil War, when cotton was for a few years
shipped from here and sold at famine prices in England. The
short revival of prosperity was followed by perhaps the three
most helpless decades of their history the former
labourers raised degenerate stock and subsisted on fish
and root crops, with the help of a certain amount of sugar and
bad rum made for local consumption. (British Virgin Islands,
Agricultural Department, 1908, n.p.)

As might be expected, the change from plantation to peasant agriculture

substantially altered land holding patterns. Originally extensive prop-

erties were subdivided amongst peasant farmers and, in turn, subdivided

amongst their heirs. Figures 14 and 15 eloquently portray the degree to

which property holdings have altered during a period of less than two


Old Problems in a New Century

Poverty had reached such abysmal depths by the beginning of the 20th

century that the British Government "belatedly bestirred themselves"

(Harrigan and Varlack, 1975, p. 115). An Agricultural Experimental

Station was established in 1901 in Road Town, with the aim of introducing

and encouraging new economic crops. To this end, improved strains of

limes, coconuts and vegetables were introduced, but the major effort was

directed towards the expansion of cotton, sugar and tobacco (Dookhan,

1975, p. 228).

Within a few short years, cotton in particular proved of consider-

able benefit and became second only to livestock among exports. In the

year 1908, approximately 42,000 pounds (19,000 kg) were exported from the

Islands (Dookhan, 1975, p. 228). By 1920, however, the boom collapsed

because of unfavorable marketing conditions and farmer resentment toward

SS. W 4 wVA./.. c.n.. 95 .. -'- "P l .... ."
As 3 s 5 % m. 44 4 1 3Nw 1 e .. 94
6 p.&. :f^ s 0 98 A
a S .. s,,,, ,'.. ... R .- S.g.r 9 / .... ...... i -

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sI '.. ?.A3.-.y.)C fls,..- ss -.5..AO.-- .- los ..... ,o A m.,.
UP" c/...o.t .. oL J).. 9 ,

"-'----" S:=.s r !- .L... (X'
,0.- SA-o,. ',r \3 IS-q:. a..r.. ** *^ ) ^ -499

a..a ,' o Sagar Au. A & 4
is A '.^.: ..:C /9 r .n... .* s'

d. ".A -\ ---- ---
1e .l5 ..w.. .a. 0443 W.... 9v9 9S
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AtM j -ia G.r Sugr ..t S /"rL. n Is..96
:ig.'& s .. ;; s c 4. ;/ i9"' 46 6 9| ^ 1
1916 N-.....;A 17ug..' 8 a a.

a* t5w ^e.a.. .4 s.g*. i,.L.. A.rC ... s a -
s.. -Au 85 Ra. 7 1, .
,h L .. S*..... 78 vi. &g

40 Le a -.t.f s.9- 1B.5 s .m s%.

39 J d X A ** v- W a 8 /. ... d. 9tbo wr 1-9.

51 JL -A a- a, U :

41& V i. sYtS. 8 .
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)" 14N-


Figure 14: Land Tenure, Tortola, 1798

see soico

s ,

2,16, 2 2i

so n r '>:

Figure 15: Land Tenure, Tortola, 1974


the rate of returns, but primarily because the crop had become heavily

infested by the pink bollworm and cotton stainer. Extensive cotton

cultivation was once again revived in 1935, but the outbreak of World War

II and a consequent major outmigration of laborers curtailed production


The encouragement of sugar production met with even less success,

since the quality of the crop could not compete with imports from the

other Leeward Islands. Production ceased in the 1920's, except for canes

grown solely for the manufacture of rum. A renewed interest in this

latter activity occurred during the prohibition era, when 'the gentleman

from Tortola' would come discreetly knocking on doors in the American

Islands, carrying a "bulgy, dirty, sea-soaked sack filled with multiform

bottles under a sparse cover of charcoal" (Knud-Hansen, 1947; quoted in

Harrigan and Varlack, 1975, p. 120). Likewise, tobacco cultivation

enjoyed initial success in the 1920's, but soon succumbed to the tobacco

beetle and the unfavorable international market created by the world

depression of 1929 1932 (Dookhan, 1975, p. 229). Although of tradi-

tional importance to the economy, little attempt apparently was made to

improve the livestock sector other than occasional importation of breed

animals. All attempts by the inhabitants to increase their well-being

through agriculture were, however, thwarted by the severe hurricanes of

1916 and 1924, both of which caused extensive damage.

In the face of such adversities, the Islanders looked abroad for

remuneration. St. Thomas lay barely 10 miles (16 km) away, with

opportunities not only as a market for cattle but also for employment.

Although adversely affected by the decline of sugar (the population of

the island fell from 14,000 in 1835 to 11,000 in 1901; Proudfoot, 1950,

Table 2), St. Thomas retained some of its prosperity because of its docks


and coaling station, which continued to enjoy busy service. The sugar

fields of St. Croix also offered some employment, but the industry was

slowly declining by the 20th century. Those unable to find work in the

neighboring islands became crew members on the ships calling at Charlotte

Amalie, or they migrated elsewhere, to destinations such as Colon for

work on the Panama Canal, to Haiti, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and

Puerto Rico for work on the sugar estates, and to the United States.

Remittances to their families in Tortola and the money that they brought

home were important contributions to the local economy.

The changeover from Danish to United States rule in 1917 little

affected the British Islanders' temporary migration to St. Thomas and

St. Croix at first. In 1927, however, immigration laws came into effect

in the American territory, preventing the seasonal employment of British

Islanders in St. Croix for the cutting of sugar cane; they were, instead,

replaced by migrants from Puerto Rico.2

The first marked improvement in economic conditions for Tortolians

came with the outbreak of World War II and the construction of a United

States naval base in St. Thomas. During the period 1940 1946, about

3,700 workers from the British Virgins -- almost the entire labor force

-- were employed either directly or indirectly in constructing or serv-

icing the base (Proudfoot, 1950, p. 32). The end of the war, however,

inevitably brought economic problems and readjustment for the number of

Islanders who had for four or five years become accustomed to full

employment and high wages.

The war period did produce one longer-lasting trend. The demand for

meat in St. Thomas led to an increased emphasis on livestock production

in Tortola, to the detriment of agricultural cropping. Promotion and

improvement of the livestock industry became the Government's main


planning objective in the immediate post-war years. Red Poll cattle were

imported and the Nellthrop breed developed to improve the quality of

livestock. In addition, increased attempts were made to promote grass-

land management and soil and water conservation. That this program was

successful is evidenced by livestock census figures: the 4,500 head of

cattle counted in 1946 had increased to 6,000 in 1962. Increases in

other livestock were more remarkable: whereas there were 668 pigs in

1946, there were 5,000 by 1962; the number of sheep increased from 710 to

2,500, and goats from approximately 3,000 to 10,000 (British Virgin

Islands' Livestock Census; quoted in Dookhan, 1975, p. 231). By 1951,

livestock accounted for 85 percent of total exports.

An agricultural renaissance proved insufficient, however, to prevent

the presidency from impending bankruptcy. Its financial woes certainly

were not aided by serious trade restrictions imposed on produce exported.

to the principal market of St. Thomas in 1950, nor by the later suspen-

sion by that island of cattle shipments from the British Islands.3

By 1951, the first grant-in-aid from the British Government was request-

ed, and such requests became larger as the decade wore on:

Between 1956 and 1959 the relationship between grants-in-aid
and local revenue had risen from 54 to 66 percent due to a
decrease in local revenue. In 1960, although revenue had
increased by some $25,000, the grant-in-aid was up to 71
percent due to increased expenditure. (Harrigan and Varlack,
1975, p. 129)

The underlying and increasingly serious problem was simply that the

Islands were fast becoming anachronistic in an ever-changing and more

complex world. Augelli considered that their economy had undergone "only

moderate change" since the late 19th century:

Its mainstay continues to be a semi-subsistent peasant
agriculture with emphasis on stock raising; it is still
plagued by a large surplus labor force, compelled to seek


employment outside the presidency; its dependency on St.
Thomas is constantly increasing. (1956, p. 49)

As an example, Augelli cited the fact that during the previous

decade the imports of the British Islands from their American neighbors

had been averaging more than 75 percent of the total, and exports to

these islands more than 95 percent of the total (1956, p. 51).
The hopes of economic revival -- at least through agriculture --

became increasingly forlorn, and out-migration became more entrenched as

a part of the pattern of life:

It was the ambition of every parent to send away as many of
his children as possible and of every youth to leave if he
could first to St. Thomas and later for the United States
of America. (Harrigan and Varlack, 1975, p. 91)

It was estimated by one author in the mid-1950's that there were as

many -- if not more -- British Virgin Islanders living in Greater New

York than in the Islands themselves. He continued:

In fact, the major export of the islands is population and the
ancillary industry, the "fixing of papers", is an occupational
disease. (Todman, 1955, p. 92)

In Tortola, Road Town was undergoing an artificial and unhealthy growth

(Augelli, 1956, p. 54), with the bulk of the increase in population

waiting for entry or re-entry into the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The ties between the British and American possessions had become

both varied and mutually binding. Whereas St. Thomas was largely urban

and required livestock and food products as well as cheap labor to fill

the jobs that American Islanders themselves did not want, the British

Virgin Islands were primarily rural, and offered surpluses of both. For

the Tortolian, whose home was in a British island but whose prosperity

lay in an American one, it thus was not surprising that his toast became

"God save the Queen, but God bless America" (Harrigan and Varlack, 1975,

p. 179).

The Era of Tourism
The Early Years

Although perfunctory official interest in tourism had been displayed

as early as 1953 with the passing of an Hotels Aid Ordinance, the in-

dustry remained of distinctly peripheral importance throughout the 1950's

within the British Islands. Portending later trends, a small, exclusive

club operated on Guano Island (located just to the north-east of Tortola)

for those few Americans who could afford it, and by the end of the decade

Road Town could boast of two hotels, each offering six or less rooms.

The few visitors who came necessarily confined themselves primarily to

their yachts.

Within neighboring St. Thomas, however, the year 1955 marked the
beginning of a boom in tourism. In that year, some 82,000 tourists

visited the American Islands, and by 1968 the number had increased more

than tenfold to 900,000 (Robinson Smith, 1975, p. 5). The resulting job

opportunities for British Virgin Islanders proliferated, especially since

American Islanders themselves were reluctant to undertake the more menial

tasks. A simplified procedure for temporary admission into the U.S.

Virgin Islands -- and applicable only to British Virgin Islanders -- was

adopted in early 1956, allowing migrants to be admitted for periods of up
to one year for the purpose of contract employment. By the end of 1958,

some 900 such migrants were residing within the American Islands

(United Kingdom Colonial Office, 1959, p. 10), in addition to an unknown
number of non-contract laborers and illegal entrants.

The tourism boom in St. Thomas proved to be both beneficial as well

as debilitating to the Tortolian economy. According to the United

Kingdom Colonial Office, the total effect was:

S. on the one hand, to lessen the interest in agriculture, to
lower productivity at a time when agricultural products command in
these island higher prices than ever before, and to increase the
dependence of the Colony of the Virgin Islands on the United States
as a field of employment opportunity; on the other hand, the Colony
has benefitted [sic] from maximum employment conditions, higher
incomes and a rise in the standard of living. (1959, p. 10)

Many of the new houses that were constructed in Tortola at this
time, as well as investments in pasture and livestock development, were

in fact a direct result of a strengthened and growing St. Thomas economy.

The "Yankee dollar" became so pervasive in the British colony that by

1959 it was officially accepted as legal tender.

It was not until the 1960's, however, that the tourism industry made

any substantial inroads in the British Islands themselves. Their som-

nolence in this regard was dispelled by a concurrence of several, not

wholly related, factors. The British Government, in the hope of making

the Islands' economy a viable one, invested in various forms of grants

throughout the 1950's and 1960's in order substantially to upgrade the

almost non-existent engineering infrastructure. As rightly suggested by

Dookhan, the economic goal "was not merely the development of production

but the achievement of economic self-sufficiency in the shortest time"

(1975, p. 231).

The capacity of the British Virgin Islands' administration to re-
quest such aid certainly was enhanced by constitutional reform. Under

the Virgin Islands' Constitution Act of 1950, the power that had been
vested in the Governor to legislate for the Presidency from 1902 onward

was abrogated, and the previous system of a Legislative Council was re-

stored. Later, in 1956, the Leeward Islands' Federation was dissolved,

and the Virgin Islands constitutionally became a Territory. As such, not

only could the Islands' administration deal directly with the Colonial

Office, but the restoration of a legislature also enabled greater local

participation in the decision-making processes.

Attempts throughout the century to provide the British Islands with
a firm economy based solely upon agriculture consistently had come to

grief -- not only because of the more lucrative pecuniary rewards offered

in St. Thomas, but also because of natural, physical constraints within

the Islands. By the 1960's, the traditional policies for growth were


Since the American territory was attracting away British Virgin
Islanders it was necessary to develop an equivalent economy if
these people were to be retained. Agriculture was unlikely to
improve the local standard of living; tourism could; and be-
sides, its development was likely to promote agriculture. .
Consequently, in 1961 the administration accepted as a 'firm
policy' the promotion of tourism as the mainspring of develop-
ment. (Dookhan, 1974, p. 231)

The administration's findings were substantiated by those of O'Loughlin

the following year, who outlined three possible courses of action open to

the Territory: evacuation, amalgamation with the U.S. Virgin Islands, or

the development of tourism to achieve economic viability and in so doing

revive the lagging agricultural and fishing sectors. The Virgin Islands'

Development Plan for 1963-64 incorporated O'Loughlin's recommendations,

and the growth of tourism was actively pursued.

The rapid development as a tourist center of the neighboring U.S.

Virgins aided the administration's aspirations in two important ways.

First, merely because of their proximity, the Islands and their tourism

potential became increasingly known to American investors and visitors.

Secondly, the large-scale development of St. Thomas encouraged increased

investment in the British territory essentially by default. As early as

1960, Kingsbury stated:

the U.S. Virgin Islands are rapidly reaching tourist
saturation. Land prices are exorbitant, the best resort sites
are gone, the water problem is ultra-critical, and in the
opinion of many visitors, the tourist population already
exceeds the catering ability and the attractiveness of the
limited land area and the limited local population, at least
on St. Thomas. (1960, p. 20)
As a consequence, he noted, in spite of the still limited infrastructure

of the British Virgin Islands, their "problems of tourist development

appear now less than further development in the American Islands" (1960,

p. 20).

Perhaps more important than any of the above factors in the actual

implementation of a tourism industry was the interest shown by one man --

Lawrence Rockefeller -- who was financially capable of introducing the

first large tourist resort to the Islands. After a total expenditure of

possibly as high as $9 million (Robinson Smith, 1975, p. 5), Virgin

Gorda's 'Little Dix Bay Hotel' was opened for business in 1964.4 The

subsequent impact upon the economy was substantial: Phillips (1966,

p. 19) anticipated that as many as 600 people would be employed as a

direct result, that their annual payroll would be in excess of $1

million, and that direct Government revenues would increase by possibly


Rockefeller's development on Virgin Gorda spawned increasing, though

less grandiose, schemes in the other Islands. By 1967, Tortola and Beef

Island offered a total of 106 guest rooms, which were scattered in eleven

small establishments ("Facts about the B.V.I.", 1967, p. 593), the

largest of which had sixteen rooms. Almost as an obituary for things

past, Fodor, Laschever and Van Doren wrote:

It probably won't be long before the British Virgins are as
decked out in hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and other
worldly finery as their matronly American cousins to the
south. In the interim, if you are looking for a real
escapist's haven, here's one of the few remaining places.
(1967, p. 360)
The interim proved to be almost exceedingly short.

The Tourism Boom

The year 1967 brought both a quickening of investment and a commit-

ment on behalf of the British Virgin Islands' Government for development

schemes that were unprecedented in scale. In Tortola, the largest of

these entailed an extensive landfill scheme in Road Harbour which would

connect the islet of Wickhams Cay to the mainland, thereby creating a

prime development area of 73 acres.6 The group involved in this

venture also held a large interest in the Development Corporation of
Anegada -- an entity that had been granted permission to develop almost

four-fifths of the Territory's second largest island as a resort center.

Stimulated by a massive inflow of funds, the local economy mush-

roomed, increasing at an average annual rate of 20 percent between 1966

and 1968, and by 60 percent during 1969 alone. Even over the longer

period 1955 to 1969 -- which included many years of relative inactiv-

ity -- the growth rate of the Islands was considered to be the highest in

the Caribbean (United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1973a,

p. 5). Even so, during the late 1960's, it could not keep pace with
tourist demand, which increased by 25 to 30 percent per annum.

With the expansion of economic activity, government revenues
continued to grow, quadrupling in seven years -- from $579,000 in 1963

to just over $2.1 millions in 1969. Imports increased also, from $2.3

millions to $8.0 millions over the same period (Harrigan and Varlack,

1975, p. 32), but a healthy, overall surplus in the balance of payments
was maintained.


If measured solely by economic criteria, the Government's strategy

of relying upon tourism for growth had worked well and been fulfilled in

a remarkably short time. By 1968, the Islands were almost totally depen-

dent upon tourism, with visitor receipts accounting for 49 percent of the

national income and almost all of invisible exports (Bryden, 1970, p. 93)

According to any other criterion, however -- particularly social -- the

brief boom years of 1967 to 1969 could not be regarded as wholly success-

ful. Increased misgivings and resentment, coupled with the oncoming

world recession, abruptly halted the frenetic pace of development.

Rescission and Recession

At the height of economic prosperity in 1969, resentment amongst the

populace became so widespread and so vocal that the Legislative Council

was forced to reconsider its stance concerning the ongoing development

schemes at Wickhams Cay and Anegada.7 The problems arose primarily

because of the nature of the Agreements themselves, poorly designed

infrastructural work, the rather abrasive character of the chief devel-

oper, Mr. Kenneth Bates, and vacillation on the part of the Government.

The terms of the Anegada Agreement included the leasing of a large

majority of the island for a period of 199 years -- far longer than the

normal 99-year lease. The animosity of the Anegadians was aroused as

soon as they realized that most of the island -- which was officially

Crown Land -- would be alienated, leaving only a small area around the

existing Settlement for future local expansion. The relationship between

the developers and inhabitants certainly was not helped when construction

of an airstrip levelled one of the most agriculturally productive areas

of Anegada.8

The Wickhams Cay Agreement provided absolute ownership of the

landfill to the developer upon completion of the work. Although there

was no provision for a cash payment, Wickhams Cay Limited was required to

provide certain public services to adjoining areas of Road Town, includ-

ing sewerage and drainage facilities, as well as the construction of a

by-pass road. In addition, small portions of Wickhams Cay were to be

reserved for public use. The Agreement included substantial import duty

and tax concessions for a period of ten years after completion of the


Within Road Town, doubts were soon expressed concerning the wisdom

and extent of the Agreement. One of the major fears was that Wickhams

Cay would be dominated by foreign-owned businesses, so much so that it

would become a wealthy, white enclave in the middle of the Territory's

capital. Since the original development proposals put forward by

Wickhams Cay comprised only a simple sub-division plan of land for sale,

with little or no control being exerted over the type and location of

development, British Islanders were given no indication as to how or what

growth would actually occur. Road Town residents were particularly

displeased after severe flooding occurred in May, 1969, as a result of

exceptionally heavy rains but also because of inadequate and poorly laid

drainage facilities on Wickhams Cay (Shankland Cox and Associates, 1972;

Richards and Dumbleton, 1972).

Although no suggestion was made that contractual obligations of the

companies concerned had not been fulfilled, the Legislative Council was

sufficiently disturbed to request a formal commission of inquiry.

Reporting in November, 1969, the commission concluded:

We believe that [the projects] can confer great and
lasting benefits on the British Virgin Islands. Equally,
however, we believe that no Government should surrender its
control over the land and destiny of its citizens to quite
such an extent as these agreements do. (quoted in "Concessions
too great in Anegada and Wickhams Cay Agreement", 1970, p. 69)

Among the commission's specific recommendations were that most of the tax

concessions granted be abolished, that at least one-third of Wickhams Cay

be sold to British Virgin Islanders and, on Anegada, that the lease be

shortened and the land area under development be reduced ("Concessions

too great in Anegada and Wickhams Cay Agreement," 1970, p. 69).

The recommendations for renegotiation were not accepted by the

Legislative Council, who instead decided to acquire the interest of

Wickhams Cay Limited and the Development Corporation of Anegada on behalf

of the Islands. After protracted negotiations, an agreement was finally

reached in July, 1971, whereby settlement was made for $5.8 million,

which the British Government supplied as a loan.

Abrogation of the two agreements by the British Virgin Islands'

Government dampened the desire of foreign investors to proceed with or

initiate further building and development projects. This lack of con-

fidence coincided in 1970 with an unexpected recession in tourism in the

Caribbean and a decrease in long-term bank financing, in particular

affecting the construction industry. The resulting impact was


Development slowed down considerably. Many expatriate
entrepreneurs left the Territory and immigration figures
fell. The building of hotels and tourist enterprises was
stopped. Money was in short supply, the cost of living rose
and there was no longer full employment. (United Kingdom
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1973a)

Surprisingly, in spite of the worsened economic conditions, the
gross domestic product increased by almost 17 percent during 1970, as

shown in Table 2. By 1971, however, it had fallen by 12 percent to

approximately $14 million, and remained almost stationary throughout 1972

(Evans, 1976b, p. 3).

Table 2: Gross Domestic Product in
Producers' Values, 1963-1974
(Current Dollars)

Gross Domestic Product
($ Million)

Annual Rate of Growth





Source: Evans, 1976b, p. 3.

1/The 1963-1968 figures are not

strictly comparable to those of




Although the year 1973 witnessed a moderate upturn in economic

activity, full recovery was hampered by an international fuel crisis,

which led to several cancelled flight schedules and a deepening recession

in the United States. More significantly, the year marked an examination

and reorientation of economic development policies within the Territory.

The emphasis by the British Virgin Islands' Government was now placed

upon revitalization of the economy through a return to agriculture and

livestock, and only a carefully controlled and gradual development of the

tourism sector (United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 1974).

In retrospect, the general consensus of opinion is that the pause in
economic development during the early 1970's offered the opportunity for

a much needed reappraisal of the potential and problems which were then

facing the Territory. As succinctly described in the British Government

report for 1970, "too much happened too quickly" (United Kingdom Foreign

and Commonwealth, 1973a, p. 4). The pursuance of such large development

schemes could not have occurred at a less politically opportune time.

While the Wickhams Cay and Anegada Agreements were made within the

esoteric confines of an administratorial system, their ramifications were

imposed upon a newly constituted and elected Ministerial Government.9

As Batham remarked:

Unfortunately the basic legislation required to ensure effi-
cient and smooth development was not in existence, which has
meant a huge burden on the new government and an inadequate
civil service. (1969, p. 563)
Such an unpreparedness, he continued, was not compatible with the ability

to deal adequately with "an influx of the 'fast buck' merchants bent on

taking advantage of the situation." The resentment over Wickhams Cay,

therefore, was perhaps symptomatic of a larger malady afflicting the