Tourism and the (Un)sustainable Development of Vieques

Last week, Luis Alberto González (Puerto Rico Daily Sun) reported that community leaders from Vieques, Puerto Rico, were reluctant to accept a tourism development plan proposed by the government, which foresees the establishment of more luxury hotels on the small island. Here are excerpts with a link to the full article below:

The problem, according to community leaders and Mayor Evelyn Delerme, is that this type of hotel facility does not allow the sustainable development of Vieques or favors the island in terms of job conditions. Kathy Gannett, one of the owners of houses converted into lodgings for tourists, rejected talk that the newly opened W Hotel recruited Vieques residents as employees. “This is against the law and sustainable development regulations that were adopted with the participation of the people. Small ‘bed and breakfast’ [facilities] are never mentioned and they form part of the tourism vision in Vieques. Its omission is not a mistake, I think the government’s position is clear,” said Gannett.

[. . .] “Tourists don’t necessarily want cold, closed hotels, but green, open ones. The W Hotel does employ Vieques residents, but it’s not the majority, we would like it to be more. The problem is looking for qualified personnel,” said Delerme, adding that the municipality cooperated in the employee selection process so that residents could access the Internet and interviews.

Meanwhile, Nilda Medina, of the town’s micro-enterprise incubator, called on the government to balance public policy with the needs of the people of Vieques. “We want to move toward where we need to be, but they violate the regulations and standards. We had put together a guide to sustainable development under the previous administration and this (administration) has not touched it,” said Medina.

[. . .] Reportedly, there are many investors who do not want the outside community to learn about the problems plaguing Vieques, so they can go about their business. Allegedly they have persuaded residents not to comment to the media on the health crisis they are facing due to the contamination of their land and food they consume.

For full article, see

Photo by Trey Ratcliff from

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