Sint Maarten, a semi-French and Dutch island in the Caribbean, receives thousands of tourists every year. The island is full of large-scale, luxury hotels and apartment complexes. And tourism keeps growing. Now there is discussion about the Project Emilio Wilson Estate where 170 houses are being built. The population demonstrates against this, because the construction site is a cultural-historical treasure for Sint Maarten. Here are the remains of old slave houses. The opposition uses this case to win the election.
Sint Maarten has an active environmental movement, a “guard dog” that keeps a close eye on the development of tourism. The movement shows what is being developed on the island and what negative effects it has. Nor is it shunned to put hotel companies in a bad light if they have violated environmental laws. An example of this is the controversial Westin Hotel Dawn Beach. Environmental movements have been trying to counter the construction of this large-scale hotel. In several pictures it can be seen that this hotel is built far too close to the flood line. The minimum distance of 45 meters is well exceeded: there is only a few meters between the building and the flood line. Also the beach here is a laying beach for turtles. Due to the crowds, light and noise, the turtles now have to swerve to other beaches. Chances are they won’t lay any more eggs, as a turtle always lays its eggs on the beach where it has also crawled out of an egg. The coral reefs are also suffering. The hotel lets the sewage run into the sea. Cement also ended up in the sea during the construction of the hotel. Despite frequent violations of the rules, it seems that the government does not carry out inspections and there is no control. The conflicts between the locals and the developers are running high. Partly because the beloved beach is no longer accessible to the locals.
Another site with a blog about Sint Maarten can be found here.
If you are planning to visit Sint Maarten, it is really a must to look up. It goes beyond the standard things (attractions, culture, nature) and questions developments. For example, about the expansion of the airport which inevitably brings more tourists to the island. Right or wrong? Judge for yourself!