With the future of the banana export industry in the Windward Islands in serious doubt, this paper considers the potential of Agro-tourism for the resuscitation of the industry. The banana industry and tourism are the main industries in the Windward Islands. The banana industry in the Windward Islands of Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines has undergone constant turmoil from the inception of the industry in the 1930s to present. The mass exodus of banana farmers in the early 1990s saw a movement into the tourism sector to sustain their livelihood. This paper examines the potential of Agro-tourism as an opportunity for banana producing communities through diversification, the promotion of entrepreneurship, education and general well being of citizens. The banana industry offers several opportunities in the areas of agro/eco/heritage tourism as a supplier of premium commodities: fresh fruit for table with all the health benefits; preparation of exotic dishes like soused banana; plantain for cooking and chips; and farm tours combined with some exposure to local customs such as foods and cultural dances. This new paradigm is not the panacea for rural renaissance, but it presents a window of opportunity to embark upon revitalizing the rural banana industry that has for too long never had sustained growth. Special attention has to be paid to the ways in which the development of tourist attractions could encourage changes in attitudes toward rural assessment and entrepreneurship. This paper examines what this means for any improvements in the banana industry and the question of how we can (or we should) broaden/widen the banana product base in the Caribbean to create greater wealth.


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