The Coastal Zone Management of St. Thomas is at a crossroads. The path of least resistance will be to continue to fine the property owners who are erecting illegal barriers to beach access; however that will prove to be a short-sighted blow to the island's tourism industry. These fines may appear stiff, but are actually a pittance to those wealthy enough to erect and staff such barriers. And they will prove to be a drop in the bucket compared to the amounts that the island will lose as regular vacationers begin to choose other islands with a less "elite" atmosphere, and the cruise ship industry starts hearing regular
complaints of restricted access and overcrowding on shore. Such a reputation will quickly result in
passenger recommendations to stay aboard, and the cruise line will not want to let its shore excursions suffer for long.
Personally, we will be petitioning cruise lines to start developing alternative ports of call if these issues don't become resolved according to the spirit of the law, as it was intended, for the good of all the citizens of the island. Knuckling under to the actions of the privileged few is a cowardly response that will only cost the people of St. Thomas in the not-so-distant future.
Kevin and Maria Walker
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