Letter to the Editor: La Isla Basura

Sunday, September 27th, 2015


Letters-to-the-EditorTo the Editor:
We came 10 years ago for our honeymoon to La Isla Bonita and had returned for our 10 year anniversary on La Isla Basura. This visit had turned out to be a mistake.
For some years your island had been a secret tip for travelers. Nowadays there is nothing left to brag about except the myth of some “secret beach”.
This time we stayed North as we thought the new road would bring what seemed to have been missing for some years.
From the beginning we had noticed sewage on the lagoon side leaving infested waters, stinking smell with a possible health risk for everyone.
Rebar, piles of concrete and other construction material were just thrown into nature. Styrofoam, plastic and other trash items are carelessly lining the sides of the road on this La Isla De Plastico. Occasionally placed “No Trash” signs are surrounded with large trash piles.
Quite annoying for tourists is the endless number of advertising signs lining both sides of the road North. It gave us tourists the feeling and looks of a trashy Mexican highway rather than an island flair through nature.
What’s next? Blinking motel signs “Rooms with Free HBO”? You cannot use the road after 4 or 5pm as hundreds of construction workers line the road to hitchhike to town. Public transportation seems to be unknown but instead, “let the workers be transported by tourists” is the cheaper and preferred island way.
Before you finally reach town center, you’ll have to make it through Shanty town. Our ladies refused to drive alone after dark due to being annoyed, stopped and intimidated by drunks and hustlers partying on the sides of the street.
San Pedro Town has now been taken over by “third world traffic” conditions and by an appeal of a poor, overcrowded Cambodian town, somewhere far away from tourism and tourist considerations. Listening to the sounds in town one would think dozens of generators, leaf blowers and power washers are operating on corners and road. Mufflers seem to be unknown for most pick-up trucks, taxis and the very noisy Polaris. Vacation guests feel barely tolerated; safety concerns are not an option either.
We have counted: Nine out of 10 cars and taxis had no load or passengers, clearly driving around for personal business of just one person.
Why is nobody willing to learn from successful operated tourist destinations like Isla Mujeres? That’s answer seems easy.
Keeping the island clean and appealing for vacation guests is inconvenient and takes efforts, knowledge and organization. Letting everything just happen is so much easier. Regulation, restrictions and long-term planning for the future would have been too complicated and traffic restrictions to advance tourism are unpopular. Tourism, the #1 income for the island is clearly ranked last on the island’s interest.
Everything seems to be done for big developers to make a quick buck and everything has been done to convenience the local population. But little to nothing has been done to make tourists feel comfortable during their vacation. “If tourists don’t like it, they should vacation somewhere else” is the island’s strategy. We had read that before on the internet but could not believe it.
A lack of education and foresight to successfully cope with tourism has lead this island into “nothing worthwhile to ever mention again” as a travel destinations.
We cannot imagine that many tourists would now-a-days ever return again for another vacation. There is little island appeal left. Dropping tourist numbers will be the result and so drop the income for everyone. The flair of this once wonderful island has been destroyed.
While the entire Caribbean seems to have some stinking ocean conditions due to sea weed, there are at least some charming islands left with appealing towns who care for their tourists and want us to come back. Ambergris Caye and San Pedro are not to be included.
What is left? To sit on a pool in a mega development? We can do that anywhere in Mexico for just about half the price.
Why pay more for getting less on Ambergris Caye?
/s/ Tommy and Jill
Vacationing from Dallas, Texas


 

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