Revista Ara

The Supply Determinants of Small Island Tourist Economies

For over two decades, the island economy literature has been dominated by the MIRAB model (Bertram & Watters, 1985) which argues that small islands subsist on remittances from off-island workers and aid from metropolitan patron countries. This study presents a MIRAB alternative, the small island tourist-driven economy or SITE, and teases out its characteristics employing three empirical analyses: (1) a means difference comparison between the more developed Caribbean and the less penetrated Pacific and Indian Ocean islands; (2) a Tourist Penetration Index analysis of 39 small islands less than three million in population; and (3) a regression analysis that identifies the contours of successful SITEs: political dependence, uncrowded ambience, ample tourism infrastructure, favorable geography, and relative affluence.

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