In my point of view, standard travel writing is a tainted profession. Writers are often given "comps" for their visits and ushered around by the owners of resorts and restaurants. The unspoken quid quo pro is that the establishments will be made to look good.
For someone with a background in the world of journalism, the whole trade-off is outrageous. I do not think it fair to readers to gloss over unpleasant experiences or fail to mention that the writer was being given VIP treatment not available to the average guest.
I enjoyed my years doing restaurant reviews for the Richmond Times-Dispatch precisely because I wasn't announced or known. My husband and I went out without advance notice as just some Richmond couple looking for a nice meal. The reviews were descriptive, not critical: Here is what to expect if you go to this place. Today, reviews are accompanied by photos of writers with proprietors, or worse, written by eaters who carry no standards except "We liked it" or "We hated it." My sense of fairness and objectivity is highly offended.
Yet I must concede that the era of the knowledgeable critic is over, and we live in a time of online reviews by anyone with a computer and Internet connection. They don't even have to know how to spell or maintain proper tenses.
So I have some advice for those who have traveled to the TCI and are considering doing an online review. If you are serious about wanting your tourist dollars to really help an economy, or about caring for the ecology of your destination, think about these things while sipping your margarita to the sound of a steel drum band. They follow the five W's of journalism.
WHO is serving you? If the place is locally owned and run, you are contributing to the economy of your destination. A large international business, however, often imports workers from far away who will work for less than the locals, and then send their money back home. If you're in the TCI and all the people serving you are Jamaican, Haitian or Malaysian, it's doubtful that much of your money is going to the TCI.
WHAT kinds of resources are you using? Rather than complain about a key card system to operate the air conditioning, think about how much it costs to keep your room artificially cool. And water is a precious commodity in much of the world; are you using it wisely?
WHEN can you interact with someone other than another tourist? If your waiter isn't allowed to chat with you, or you're told it's "too dangerous" to leave the compound, your resort experience is being overmanaged. Is that what you really want?
WHERE are you? Can you tell? Seriously, some resorts create such an artificial atmosphere that you can't detect any hint of where you really are. This is travel? Some cruises even hide their locations from guests. They stop at "Labadee" or "Hispaniola," not mentioning Haiti at all. It's just as well, I guess, because I can guarantee those people have NOT been to Haiti in any real sense.
WHY would you want to return? This might be the key to your review as well as to your own traveling plans. For if these five W's mean nothing to you, why travel at all?