Citizens of St. Maarten have been urged to mark their new political status [see previous post St. Maarten, Curacao celebrate increased autonomy] by taking practical steps to transform the new Dutch Caribbean nation into a “Garden Isle,” with a view to protect the environment and to boost tourism. See excerpts with a link to the full article below:
St Maarten transitioned to a more independent status in association with the Netherlands when its first prime minister took the helm on Sunday and Lelei LeLaulu of the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx), who spoke at the culmination of several days of events marking World Tourism Day, called for a “genesis approach” of intensive planting and growing of flowers, plants and other life forms.
World Tourism Day this year focused on biodiversity and LeLaulu proposed St Maarten’s new political status was “a wonderful opportunity to enhance biodiversity by growing plants, flowers and food–not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also such a genesis makes economic sense to grow more local food for the bustling tourism industry.”
“Farmer to table initiatives boost incomes for small farmers while adding local dishes for tourists to savor,” he asserted, adding, “the coordinated growth of flowers attracts birds, butterflies, hummingbirds and other life forms, as well as tourists who love them. Aside from beautifying the island’s coastal waters, LeLaulu pointed out, “planting mangroves protects resorts by forming a natural barrier to ocean surges, but mangroves are also fertile breeding grounds for fish and other forms of marine life.”
Regina LaBega, St Maarten’s Director of Tourism, said biodiversity and tourism “are not foes unto death” and tourism had a responsibility to defend and preserve St Maarten’s environment. LaBega called for collaboration between government, private sector and non-governmental groups but she said it should be “legally wrong” for businesses to be set up shop “with utter disregard for the impact their operations would have on our biodiversity.”