Most Foreign Vloggers Exploiting Jamaica?

Wednesday, May 22, 2024, 8:50 PM

Travel vlogs have become a lucrative option for YouTubers around the world, with the Caribbean being a popular location for many. However, some have taken issue with foreign nationals seemingly exploiting Jamaican citizens and the country’s culture to gain popularity on the platform and earn big bucks.

The issue was highlighted by Australian YouTuber Bless Up Jess, who noted that people are travelling to Jamaica to take what they can without giving back. “It makes me infuriated how people can just come here and film their content,” says Jess.


She next details that some foreign YouTubers make a lot of money off viral videos filmed on the island. She also asked what is being done to give back, “What are you actually giving back to this country that you are earning money off of?”

Some notable channels that have centred many of their videos on Jamaica are Ras Kitchen, Dee Mwango, Backpacking Simon, Chris Must List, and Indigo Traveller. While these channels may have been created by visiting foreign nationals, many rely heavily or solely on local Jamaicans to help create their content.

One topic of discourse that has arisen over the past few years is the distribution of funds attained from these Jamaican-centric channels. Last year, controversy was ignited as allegations of scamming and theft surrounded the popular YouTube channel Ras Kitchen.

The channel, created by Canadian film producer Matthew Pancer, was centred around the life of chef Ras Mokko Jackson and his ital cuisine. However, after years of working together, the pair parted ways, with Mokko accusing Mathew of not paying him fairly from the funds gained from the channel.

Ras Mokko and Matthew

Mokko also alleged that Matthew stole from a GoFundMe set up in his name. Matthew denied the allegations against him and has since dedicated his channel to travelling around Jamaica and featuring various other Jamaican chefs and eateries.

Another issue of discourse has been what some have described as the manipulative strategies or sensationalization of crime used by vloggers to gain views. Kenyan vlogger Dee Mwango recently came under fire for attempting to bring a Jamaican friend, Shane, with her on a trip to Turks and Caicos without a visa.

Some of the vlogger’s viewers have accused her of manipulating Shane to create drama around her content. 

“She lying. She knew everything. She made this guy look like a fool. If y’all believe her then y’all just as silly.. she only using Jamaica to make money because the algorithm doesn’t make ish in Africa,” one of her viewers stated.

Vloggers like Chris Must List and Indigo Traveller have also received criticism for using Jamaicans for money. Both channels often post videos that highlight and sensationalise crime in black and poor communities or countries.

Following the deaths of Jamaican YouTuber Freelance Chucky and his associate Ras Anthony, the channel Freelance Jamaica has also come under scrutiny. The channel was operated by Simon of Back Packing Simon, who shared the news of Chucky and Anthony’s passing.

Prior to Chucky’s death in a bike accident, the YouTuber had expressed that he was being targeted. While his death has not been ruled a murder, some of his fans have speculated that jealousy surrounding the success of his channel and Airbnb may have made him a target.

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