Hopefully the local St. Thomas response, and especially the official response, will be thoughtful rather than defensive.
It is unfortunate that the Source did not refer to the article's report on Anguilla, which received a 70, as the tourism industry there is strongly affected by Anguillan nationals who returned home after spending many years on St. Thomas and seeing the progressive decline in the quality of our tourism product, our environment and our lifestyle.
The lack of a local consensus of what St. Thomas should be and who are the primary, ultimate stakeholders is reflected in our continued lack of an overall development plan and a tendency to evaluate individual projects within limited parameters rather than in a truly holistic context. A small example: given that we encourage hordes of tourists on low cost tours, our Main Street workers have to deal with either scarce customers or lots of people shopping for bargains in a short period of time. Often these shoppers do not seem to understand that they are in a place with a different culture, a place where most people live normal lives not focused on tourism. [Given some of the things that I have heard and seen, I truly respect our workers in tourism-based industries that maintain a truly positive and pleasant outlook.] If we focused on a different type of tourism, we would get a different caliber of visitor.
Everyone focuses on what appears to be best for their short-term interest, which generally leads to the lowest common denominator.
Turning around the rush to mediocrity will take intense introspection, serious and extended discussion, and an understanding that every decision has real consequences.
I hope that this article moves us as the community of St. Thomas, closer to that process.
Judith L. Bourne
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