By: Elliot J. Harrigan
Saturday, 18 June 2011
Anguilla and St. Maarten / St. Martin’s indigenous population are mostly heritage of the same families. Our historic mutual economic relations should be strengthened on the basis of the economic well being and viability of both islands, but never on the basis of subservience. St. Maarten is the stronger of the two economies, but Anguilla has always traded with St Maarten in the areas of its strength. We’ve exported our fish and lobster, agricultural goods, and sold our animals and poultry. Our people purchase more from SXM than from our own commercial sector. The piling on of requests to SXM to come to our assistance could in-fact change the nature of our relationship and put one in control of the other. St Maarten’s immigration service is an arm of Dutch law which makes any officer stationed there subject and compliant; to accommodate Anguilla in stationing its immigration service there, perhaps is asking too much, but all based on the economic policy of this government.
St. Maarten / St. Martin’s economic strength came from exactly those areas that Anguilla has always rejected. In addition to a vibrant commerce sector, a major international airport and harbor, St Maarten has a marine sector and cruise tourist port that caters to some of the largest and most expensive yachts, and handles the largest and most modern tourist ships in the world, disembarking millions of visitors on its shores annually, not mentioning the extraordinary diversity in its commerce sector on a whole, all being pillars of economic strength. SXM’s economic make up has been the subject of serious debate for Anguilla for many years in our pursuit for economic sustainability; we opted for small scale, slow, measured growth.
Sustainability is the inference used by all successive governments to describe the prospect in our economic survival. I am a born Anguillian and lives on St. Martin; fortunate to operate on both sides of the island, and shuffle to Anguilla steadily. During the end of the political campaign I was bombarded, when political operatives and critics who claimed that I want Anguilla to look, and be like St. Maarten, specifically declaring that St. Maarten is not the model that Anguilla aspires to, but it actually amuses me to see these same group now literally begging St. SXM for assistance to improve the image of the government. As I said earlier, our economic model is too dependent on elements out of our control. Salamander did not meet expectations of our government, while the country suffers immensely with a heavy cost for gross inaction. The recent sale of Flags has brought renewed hope, but our people have been well taught not to be fooled twice.
Our economic strength is very much an anecdote of irony. An island emerging from the bottom of the economic ladder, we market our self as a high end, a choice with high demands. The natural elements of our destination are our better resource; our relatively clean atmosphere, quiet and serene surroundings, in-congestion and accommodation too, do the destination justice. But the island it’s self lacks affluence and infrastructure that contributes to added pleasure and entertainment in the industry. This is Anguilla, and we must ask; what is it we offer that makes us this grand high quality destination? The product its self thrives on the very best and our services must be impeccably suitable. The story is told of a millionaire couple repeat visitors to the island, who said that after landing on Anguilla they sleep all the way to their hotel, because there is nothing to see. We must own this market in this region and must show that we have the ability to sustain the brand. We must increase our numbers; this means that Anguilla must be prepared to invest in key areas of the island that would add attraction to the destination. Then perhaps we might dominate this grand market place, increase our occupancy and defer our boom and bust predicament adding positive growth to the country.
We have no economic strength! In reply to the topic; this is true, simply because we have no strong economic pillars and therefore our foundation is very shaky and we simply cannot withstand the most minimum economic shuddering. I was present in the early process of the structuring of our tourism model, perhaps 1992; when a British Technical Assistance team of experts advised, that high end tourism will not be sustainable for Anguilla and there should be some diversification in the model it’s self, meaning we should low our profile and look at the more general market; stating that Anguilla will not be able to maximize its benefits, partly because of our deficiency in infrastructure and accessories imperative to maintain this market. They warned that our occupancy will be minimal as a consequence. Comparison was drawn with St. Maarten being able to consistently realize growth in its market and a much higher occupancy because it caters for the all inclusive general market. I am sure, reference to such a report can be easily found in government’s archives.
We are a people of great dreams and wild expectations, in particular we aspire for the very best, this is commendable, but realistically, we have failed desperately to deliver a stable growth to the island which has impacted our people severely and repeatedly. There is no stability in our economic model and it is time that we attract the services of serious economists to structure an economic profile of steady and progressive growth for the island. Because we are an ambitious people, we continue to incur major losses by our initiatives at rapid intervals because of the lack of an untenable economic situation on the island.
This article will continue with a perspective on our airport, our tourist port, Blowing Point and our town center, The Valley; how minor discretionary improvements can offer our guests and in particular our repeat guests an improved image of the island on an annual basis!!!!”
By: Elliot J. Harrigan
Posted by Realist Spikenice at 16:30