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Dock and Boat Mania on Ambergris Caye

Dear Editor,
For nearly ten years I have been living on the island as a retiree. I have noticed a lot of changes over these years.

Traffic in town has exploded and walking during high season has become very dangerous. Remember: some years back you could even still drive on the beach in town from Central Plaza to Blue Water Grill. At that time there were only a few dozen registered golf carts on the island, so that did not matter. Luckily that got stopped. Nowadays high car traffic has made San Pedro unsafe for foot traffic, noisy and unpleasant, especially for tourists.

A similar, unsafe situation has evolved with boat traffic in and around San Pedro. Over the years the number of cars has significantly increased but equally the number of boats and their sizes. Larger boats are needed to transport a higher number of tourists to snorkeling spots and to tourist attractions on the mainland.

Back then there were fewer docks in town with fewer and much smaller boats. Most boats then were just 15 feet and could accommodate 4 to 6 tourists. Now some boats are 50 feet long and for up to 50 tourists on board. The increase of docks, dock sizes, number of side arms plus the much higher number of boats in town may seem to be normal for some. Unfortunately tourists don’t like it.

Dock and Boat Mania on Ambergris Caye

When you walk the beach in town center the ocean view is severely impacted and has become plain ugly. Town’s beach promenade has become unsightly, looking like a harbor. Some few docks are necessary, no doubt. But, let’s be clear, docks are ugly to look at and a harbor in the center of San Pedro very counterproductive to tourism. It will take away the beautiful ocean view tourists like and will hurt your future outlook.

Most importantly there is an impact on tourism with engine noise and when walking the beach in town you’d have to inhale boat engine fumes. There are still engine repairs performed and on calm days you can see oil or gasoline on the water’s surface. The current situation is convenient for boat operators only but it is also very unattractive for San Pedro and for tourism.

If tourists would like to look at docks and boats while on vacation, they would book vacation in/at a harbor but not on a vacation island.

This spring we were all watching the Futbol World Cup in Brazil. We all saw the pretty beach in the center of Rio De Janeiro called Copacabana, shown at the beginning and end of each and every games. Did anyone notice that these 3 miles of Copacabana had not one dock? That’s beauty !

In my early years I had been living in New York City. I went to school and university there. Back then, New York looked rather messy with commercial boat docks surrounding Manhattan. You could hardly see the ocean when walking on promenade. Views were blocked by large boat docks and large commercial ships. Noise was unpleasant. Trucks were everywhere to pick up food and merchandise right in the city. Since then, New York got developed into America’s #1 tourism destination and to accommodate tourism growth these messy and unsightly docks had to go. New harbors were created away from tourist attractions and away from city center.

First, an experienced management team was hired. They created nice looking promenades on the ocean for people’s enjoyment. Nowadays only very few docks remain for the use of sight-seeing tourists. All other commercial and private boats were banned from Manhattan so tourist and the local New Yorkers can enjoy the promenades again and feel welcome. San Pedro will have to do the same and hire an experienced management team, a team well aware of tourists’ need. Since my retirement, I reside in a condo building here on the island.

An increasing number of big boats from tour operators and water taxis pass our dock in full speed just 50 feet away from the tip of the dock, sometimes even much closer.

None of these captains would be able to spot a swimmer or snorkeler in the water. The tip of these large boats blocks any view in front for up to a few hundred feet. Therefore all resorts were forced to establish safe swimming areas with buoys so we and all vacation guests have some small but safe area in the ocean. This is extremely counterproductive for the island’s tourism. Thousands of tourists each year will not come back again, disappointed by these unsafe swimming/snorkeling conditions. No tourist is interested in a vacation on a commercial boat traffic island and several tourists have already expressed their displeasure.

And let’s sum it up: “This island is mismanaged”.
There is no foresight, long term planning and vision for tourism well being and a prosperous future for the island.

At this point you’ll all have to admit:
Being born on this island does not qualify to manage the island’s well being and tourism, and being elected is not a qualification either. Being in office just means that you have the obligation to act in best conscience by hiring an experienced management. 

Only a well trained management team will be able to fix all these problems this island is currently facing. We can only hope that this will happen very soon and before the island’s tourism will start to collapse. There is very little time left as an increasing number of tourists return home unhappy about the island’s unacceptable conditions, on the road and on the water.

/s/ Very Concerned Retired Resident

Below is an example of the change made in New York City and the clean Copacabana beach of Brazil

Dock and Boat Mania on Ambergris Caye

Dock and Boat Mania on Ambergris Caye

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