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Future of St. Vincent’s tourism in danger?

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Three years ago, I moved to St. Vincent and the Grenadines from the United States.
Upon my arrival, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the Vincentian landscape, and the pristine perfection of the white sand beaches and crystal blue waters of the Grenadine islands. St. Vincent, to so many who would chose to come and visit, is paradise.{{more}}
In the brief time that I have lived here, I have seen the continued development of a young tourism industry, saw its necessity born out of a change in economic climate. I am sure that anyone who understands the problems faced by the small island nations of the Eastern Caribbean, especially those who previously depended so much on bananas to sustain their economies, will agree that the development of tourism in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is critical to this country’s development.
The controversy surrounding the management of the Tobago Cays brought the issue of this national landmark into the public’s focus, but I fear that despite the spotlight shining so brightly on “our little sister islands”, a few of St. Vincent’s very own citizens are putting the development of tourism in this great nation at risk by their actions in the Tobago Cays.
Tabac, the tiny low-lying member of the Tobago Cays that is not bordered by the Horseshoe Reef was one of the sites of filming for the movie, “Pirates of the Caribbean”. It is a remarkably beautiful island, perhaps of the premier tourist attraction among all of the Grenadine islands.
A regular visitor to the Cays, I was thoroughly dismayed recently when I visited Tabac, only to find it inhabited by a group of fishermen who I am told are from Bequia. Tabac, a very small island, has become their home, and the entire shaded area of the island is now occupied by these men, their tents, diving tanks, and equipment of all sorts spread across the island.
Quite certainly, I felt as though I were intruding into someone’s bedroom by stepping onto this island that I have visited so many times before, enjoying its unspoilt solitude.
It is absolutely necessary to develop a means to manage the Tobago Cays as quickly as possible. Tourists who visit the Cays are now deterred to visit Tabac because of these men who are inhabiting an advertised “uninhabited island”.
What visitor wants to pull their dinghy up on the shore of Tabac’s pristine beach only to discover they are visiting someone’s private home?
Additionally, the incidents of vandalism, violence and theft towards persons chartering yachts and mooring in Union Island and Mayreau appear to be on the rise. Stories of individuals cutting mooring ropes to yachts, stealing dinghies and harassing visitors are becoming increasingly common in the Southern Grenadines.
This is a critical time in the development of this nation’s economy.
Toursim presents great possibilities of reward, but also brings with it a gigantic social and environmental responsibility. The government needs to put a plan into action to manage the Cays that the people agree with, and the people need to stop their countrymen from inhabiting islands that are deemed to be uninhabited.

A Concerned Friend of SVG

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