Having visited many of the islands that scored ahead of St. Thomas, I have serious reservations with the ranking. Nonetheless, this article should serve as a wake-up call to us all to the reality that there is a limit to a tourist destination's capacity to provide a quality experience. It is a call for us to put more emphasis on public and business policies that foster sustainable development.
For a start, all stakeholders of the Virgin Islands tourism product need to develop a clear vision of the quality of experience we want the islands to provide to both the residents and tourists. Next, we need to take inventory of our capacity to deliver that experience; and finally, we need to determine and implement the strategies for the needed sustainable development.
The three steps may seem simple. However, I remember offering them at a public forum on St. John nearly twenty years ago, and all I got was some polite acknowledgement by public officials, cruise lines representatives, and business leaders.
Hopefully, now is the time for the major stakeholders to take leadership in developing and implementing viable policies for a sustainable Virgin Islands tourist product. Perhaps the Commissioner of Tourism will be the catalyst that will bring together the industry, government, academia, and the public at-large, to develop the much needed viable policies for a sustainable Virgin Islands tourist product before we succumb to the notion of a paradise lost. It is not too late, if we act.
Solomon S. Kabuka
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