To Ambergris Today,
We were regulars since 2009, some years even twice a year. We used to love this island, it was cozy and unique. First we stayed at a hotel in/near town, than further South and a few times up North. Sometimes we visited just the 2 of us but three times we also brought friends and once our kids. Finally we must quit.
We saw it coming over years, the worsening situation on this island but for some years we were somewhat still hopeful that logic eventually would prevail. By now we have no hope.
The many years of "no rules, no regulations, no plan, no foresight, no vision" has smashed this originally so beautiful island to the very bottom in attractivity.
The ugliness of electronic billboards, advertising sign bonanza all over the island, high traffic in combination with arrogant and unsafe driving, unsightly developments, no apparent zoning law (every junk yard gets mixed in), no sustainable transportation system, dangerous boat traffic, lack of infrastructure to name just a few . . . .. "Viva to a cheaper version of Mexico but at higher prices"!
The ugliness of many commercial businesses right on the main roads had transformed this island into an eye sour for golf cart tourists. San Pedro town has been converted into nothing else than a circling taxi circus without parking.
If there was a junk yard vehicle somewhere, it would find a home on Ambergris Caye. Every lawn mower with a seat would get registered in San Pedro and every race car driver would find a taxi job on this island. All at no concern for anybody "if tourists don't like it, they can....whatever"!
"The More, the Better" was the only plan over the years. Quantity instead of Quality. Tourists don't like regulations was the nonsense excuse for "Higher, Bigger, Uglier, Trashier, Faster" and that all right into tourists' faces: "Take it or Leave it".
The general direction of developments now seem to be a mixture of highest density 60’s style shoe box buildings squeezed on the smallest of lots, a touch of South Central LA with the addition of newest splashes from Vegas advertising on an ugly commercial trucking highway. Not a winning formula to attract golf cart tourists to a very small island. There is no taste, no style and no direction visible. It seems there is no long term plans about anything.
When talking with some locals we got an even better understanding of the island's mindset. Locals like this island as junky as it has become, Period. They see no problem at all. Not one we had spoken to over the past years seemed to be unhappy with the current lack of appeal, lack of charm or the constant growing traffic problems.
"Belizeans like it that way and tourists are just here for a week anyhow", while thereafter new tourists will arrive. In general, tourists are already seen as an entitlement on this island.
And another often used excuse we have heard: "YOU have much more traffic in the US than we have here on the island" and the logical follow up, "So then, what are YOU complaining about" was not spoken out but very much felt.
Our local friends on the island generally were just wondering why the two of us didn't switch long ago and vacation at other destinations, if we do not like how unsustainable the island is developing. Yes, the understanding how to successfully handle tourism is very low on the island, unfortunately.
Therefore our thought is:
"Why does the island's administration care so little about tourism?" Why would they even care at all? With all that great and successful trucking and "speedy Gonzales" taxi business on this island, there is really no need for that ;)
We feel angry and sorry!!!
Hasta La Vista and Bye bye.
Gina & Thomas Burton
Bent, OR, USA