Launched in 1966, Jamaica's national airline, Air Jamaica, exclusively employed women flight attendants, dubbed “rare tropical birds,” to embody and sell its elevated hospitality. Using Air Jamaica and its flight attendants as a lens on tourism across the region, this article demonstrates how, at midcentury, the industry was a complicated and contradictory mix of optimistic visions of advancement and problematic projections of creolized citizenship, all embedded in an imagery of a consumable Caribbean island paradise. The article interrogates the critical role that Air Jamaica's flight attendants and other women played in selling a harmonious Jamaicanness and idealized island fantasy to global North travelers, particularly in contrast to the larger national project of democratic socialist reform under Michael Manley. Despite efforts to put the tourism industry back into Jamaican hands, the act of trading on a romanticized racial hybridity and gendered, exoticized servility is inextricable from the story of tourism development in Jamaica and the region and points to the many contradictions entrenched (and persistent) in the industry.

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