Reader’s Letter: How many times can you slice the pizza before you begin to feel hunger?

POSTED: 03/3/11 12:24 PM

Dear Editor,

I’ve been reading in the local papers about the latest proposal which would turn the Emilio Wilson Estate into a miniature Disney World in order to further amuse the cruise line tourists. I have to ask why this is needed. Over the years St. Maarten has jumped through virtually every hoop the FCCA has asked them to. Millions of dollars have been spent on the harbor facilities, the boardwalk, developing the water taxi service, building the water taxi jetty and various beautification projects in town all to better serve the cruise industry.
At what point should the people of St. Maarten say enough is enough? There is already plenty to see and do in St. Maarten and some of those things can only be experienced in St. Maarten (The 12 meter Regatta comes to mind). Have cruise passengers become so mentally challenged that they can no longer amuse themselves for the eight hours or so they spend in port? If so; then they need more help than a Zip-line, a roller coaster, or a tram ride can possibly provide.
Not one more cruise line passenger is going to decide to take a cruise because of this proposed attraction. Why would they? Most cruises originate from the port of Miami, which is only two hours by car from Disney World in Orlando, the number one tourist destination in the world. If you’re really craving a roller coaster ride it seems to me that it would be much easier and less expensive to just go to Disney World to start with.
What every St. Maarten business that caters to cruise tourists needs to look at, is just how this will impact them. Since the pizza that is cruise tourism will not get any larger due to this, it only means your slice will become smaller. The cruise passenger can’t spend money at a jeweler or electronics store on Front Street while riding the tram. It’s impossible to lose any money at a casino while strapped to a Zip-line. The taxi driver will not be able to charge the same fare driving someone to this new attraction that is currently charged for a trip to say Orient Beach. It will be hard for a beachfront restaurant to sell them lunch or a drink since they’ll be able to get both after they exit the roller coaster. I’m failing to see the benefit here.
If the cruise line sells an excursion package for say $100.00 to a passenger, is Government going to collect $5.00 in turnover tax from the cruise line? Odds are good if any money is collected it will be based on some lesser amount after the cruise line gets their cut.
Why are the people of St. Maarten being asked to give up one of the last remaining unspoiled areas that represent its history and culture? In a word, GREED. It would be really tragic for St. Maarten to lose all that the Emilio Wilson Estate represents so that a few cruise lines can sell some more tours and a few thousand T-shirts. Once this piece of history is destroyed there is no bringing it back.
If you disagree, just do nothing and be satisfied with your ever shrinking slice of pizza. If however you’re in agreement, I would urge you to stand behind The Emilio Wilson Foundation and the mission they are trying to accomplish.
Nowhere is it written that all tourist attractions have to be mindless and tacky with colonial Williamsburg being a prime example.

Andy Croxall

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