In the Caribbean when October comes around people get ready for The Season. But what exactly does this ambiguous term really mean. Someone once told me that in New Hampshire they have four seasons: the wet season, the mud season, the fly season and the off season. Still want to visit? Really, of course, in the northern hemisphere north of the tropics, there are four seasons directed by the earth's revolution around the sun, winter, spring, summer and autumn (fall, to those challenged by the English language). In the tropics we typically have two seasons, the wet season and the dry season, but in recent decades the seasons refer more to visitor arrivals than to climate change. The high season is from Christmas to May, May to August is summer season, August to November is hurricane season and November to Christmas is â€¦ well, shoulder season.
By December those in the tourist industry are usually anxiously awaiting the arrival of well-heeled visitors from northern climes: empty pockets are in need. Conversely, by August the stress and strain of continuous tourist arrivals along with the ubiquitous tedious and mundane questions make employees wish they had chosen an exciting career in accounting.
To those who find tourists unbearable there is a solution: it is to be found in the above mentioned fly season of states in New England. Apparently it is possible to become at least partially immune to the nasty stinging bites of the voracious insects. Some years ago a man wearing a wide-brimmed black hat attracted hundreds of the bothersome critters. By sweeping his hand across the top of his swarming head gear he caught and then, in a rage, ate the offending flies. Hey presto! He became instantly immune; he was never bitten again.
So, next time bothersome tourists become insufferable eat a few of them. Word will soon spread and visitor arrivals will drop to a more manageable level. After all it worked for the Fiji group when Captain Bligh was chased by a canoe full of savage natives screaming, "Faster, faster, long pig for dinner tonight!" Although Bligh escaped, tourism, even today, comes only in fits and starts.
There is one caveat: To owners and managers of leisure industry businesses who reap hefty profits from tourism it might be wise to change the name 'shoulder season', especially just before Christmas.
Julian Putley is the author of "The Drinking Man's Guide to the BVI," "Sunfun Calypso," and "Sunfun Gospel."