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#503064 - 04/07/15 05:31 AM Comments by Huffington Post Travel Editor
Marty Online   happy

Letter to the Editor: Suzy Strutner

Dear Editor:

My name is Suzy Strutner. I am a travel writer, author and editor for the Lifestyle & Travel Sections @ HuffingtonPost.

It is of my foremost importance to keep my readership up-to-date on my travel experiences, travel news and changes in various travel destinations.

Last week, my travel allowed me to have another 2-days stop on Ambergris Caye. Again, I wanted to have a short and private vacation stay with business observations mixed in. I had a pleasurable time!

I was urged to also inform the community about my newest impressions; and possibly beforehand.

Tourism has increased quite impressively on the island, my congratulations. Becoming famous unfortunately, has also lead to some structural and organizational problems, which have now become quite apparent. All these are impacting tourism pleasure one way or the other:

* The island still has all the potential to develop into a real treasure destination designed for high-end travel clientele without dependence on the much tougher mass and package travel market. — A Positive

* San Pedro and surroundings: Visually clean appearances on house facades and enforcement on building style requirements and height limitations seems to become one of the foremost ranked necessity to achieve. Little seems to be done to maintain, expand or rebuild a “cozy Central American building character” and appearance. –Can be Fixed

* A mix of residential and commercial buildings (zones) has mostly proven problematic and taken its toll on real estate value and future outlook. A grocery store, a bakery and deli will be needed for every residential area but anything further would be counterproductive. Preferable, vacationers want to see retail shops, souvenir shops, boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants on roads and streets in town but certainly not hardware stores, gas stations or businesses with even less charming appearances– Can be Fixed

* Re-define and make Central Plaza a center point and main town attraction for tourists. There should be tables with umbrellas offering pizza, drinks and snacks to cater to vacationing guests. Which tourist would not enjoy taking a relaxing break with such a gorgeous ocean view at Central Plaza? Currently Central Plaza is merely a drive through with somewhat ugly looking vendor stands on the side of the road. Can be Fixed

* A lack on infrastructure/parking/road systems has become apparent, taking its toll for a relaxed feeling for vacation guests. The limitations to maintain orderly and safe traffic in town –especially for pedestrians– seem to be near and clear. Town has become less attractive for tourists. — A Negative, Can be Fixed

* The ocean view in town and on front ocean promenade had been further blocked by more docks, dock widenings, dock structures and more commercial boats and services. Commercialization of prime beach areas and town promenades do not mix well with tourists’ expectations. The wonderful ocean view in town had been blocked, more and more. — Can be Fixed

* Despite the sea weed invasion (most likely cause by environmental problems not related to your area), the ocean and reef on Ambergris Caye are still amongst the very best in the world. — A Big Positive

Keep the island clean, natural, cozy and small looking and you will rake the benefits for years to come!

I will be on your side, and assist with pleasure.

I will be visiting again.

/s/ Suzy Strutner
Los Angeles, CA

#503071 - 04/07/15 06:31 AM Re: Comments by Huffington Post Travel Editor [Re: Marty]
Diane Campbell Offline
Very helpful and interesting assessment. Although she misses some of the cultural and economic issues that are underlying, she gives us a market analysis, showing what at least one well traveled customer seeks.

I have some ideas .....,starting with Central Park and beachfront in that area. Have been thinking of taking this one project to Town Council for some time, and will see what I can formulate. When I have something concrete I will share and ask for support in whatever way possible.

#503073 - 04/07/15 07:36 AM Re: Comments by Huffington Post Travel Editor [Re: Diane Campbell]
JaHo Offline
I'll be interested in hearing your thoughts, Diane. Except for festivals and celebrations, I agree that our Central Park is a less than inviting place to enjoy our town.
Now, it seems that finding a way to use our back-of-the-island ferry terminal is even more important to traffic and tourism. Will anything be done to assure that is not a total waste of money?

#503076 - 04/07/15 08:03 AM Re: Comments by Huffington Post Travel Editor [Re: Marty]
Diane Campbell Offline
The village square can be the heart of the community. There are ways.....

#503168 - 04/09/15 08:53 AM Re: Comments by Huffington Post Travel Editor [Re: Marty]
Bear Offline
In some respects Diane I'd agree its "interesting" for sure, helpful? maybe, in some respects. I agree with your/her comment about Central being a focal point just as is the Old Plaza in our home town. None of the following is directed at anyone in particular, it's just commentary in general.

After reading this I was a bit perplexed by what I perceived to be a lack of practical understanding by someone who, I assume, is allegedly well traveled. I'd like to know how "Can be fixed" is a viable assessment/comment with respect to some of her bulleted points. What immediately crosses my mind is the "cruising on our laurels attitude" that seems to prevail here. One that is often backed by hands in the air wailing "no money"! Okay so maybe there isn't any (yet) but that paradigm is unlikely to change without outright revolution. Of course I'm kidding about that, but i think you get the idea. The Status Quo on big stuff is a pretty hard paradigm to break on the island. I guess its always good to hear opinions, but hers seem to assume that a strong sense of, and commitment to, urban planning exists, or if not, that it can be created and sustained any time soon.

Planning, design and review?, tell a developer "you can't", enforcement? I'm not saying a miracle can't happen but it sure seems pretty unlikely unless certain government entities wake up and the GOB gets serious about tending to the Golden Goose. They won't/can't even collect back property taxes much less direct those funds or other moneys back into the islands infrastructure for health related issues. Most of her suggestions seem completely impractical. I can only assume she's talking about the passage (and enforcement) of future strictures when she says "Can Be Fixed". However no one is going to tear down existing businesses simply because they happen to be on the main road. Building height? Well it happened before my time, but the history of that Design and Review issue certainly appeared to be short lived.

I see much of her commentary as being the product of living in a large US city (and in California no less). Okay it's good to hear opinions but practically speaking what will it really take to accomplish these things? So little attentions is being paid to larger health related issues. If there were one thing this island desperately needs is sewage and water service to places in dire need. With respect to garbage and cleanliness the "main road" has seen improvements over the few years we've owned, and kudos to SPTC for that, but IMHO its window dressing compared to the island as a whole. She most likely did not take the road out to the Port Authority, the amount of garbage along the road there is astounding and a "Can be Fixed" is one I'll ascribe to without reservation. However even that "fix" poses significant challenges (See Garbage Concerns thread)...as to sewage and clean water what will that take? How cool would it be to see real movement on those issues. Maybe its a matter of priorities but there has to be a sustained driving force other than the next election...

PS and I'm sorry but I'm not buying the sargassum issue as being the result of "environmental problems elsewhere" (which seemed to be about the only thing for which she was willing to give the Island a pass...)

#503196 - 04/09/15 05:19 PM Re: Comments by Huffington Post Travel Editor [Re: Marty]
Go South Offline
Miss SS sounds a bit arrogant to me, however my perception maybe unclear. I agree with Bear that the SPTC has more immediate health and welfare issues that need to be addressed for this great tourist town.


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