I will type it even though it is no secret. This is my blog and my opinions and not a “news article”. You can most certainly disagree – I am under no pretense that everything that I say is correct.
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Let’s Work Harder Protect Our Greatest Economic Asset
What is our greatest economic asset here on Ambergris Caye? It’s something that I was thinking lots about on my drive back from upstate NY to NJ just a few days back. Here’s exactly what got me thinking…
The Adirondacks. A US national forest preserve in NE Upstate New York. Over 6 million acres of mountains, forests and villages, and towns that are FRIGID in the winter. It’s about the same size as Belize and much of it is a UNESCO biosphere (just like the Belize barrier reef).
And as we drove around admiring the turning autumn leaves, I very slowly noticed something was different. Someone actually told me exactly what was so different.
There were no billboards blocking the mountains and leaves and trees, the scenery.
I later learned that it is the law in that area. An especially intriguing law (to me) to protect the integrity and aesthetics of the park. The Sign Law – regulating against billboards within the Adirondack region of upstate New York. A region that relied just as much on logging as it does on tourism.
I’ve done a little reading and it is a law from 1924!!!! – almost 100 years ago. WAY before gaudy flashing neon signs and ambulance-chasing lawyers promising to get you paid for your fender bender.
Here’s the line that really struck me from the lawmakers’ decision to outlaw billboards (over a certain size) and start the removal of over 1400 signs at the time (despite a serious backlash):
The scenic beauty of the Adirondack Park is one of the great economic assets that we have.
Now replace “Adirondack Park” with “Ambergris Caye” – an area/island that relies solely on tourism for economic prosperity.
The scenic beauty (the environment, nature, the view) is what draws people to Belize. There are other reasons that people stay…the people of Belize, the delicious food…but it’s the scenic beauty that draws visitors to Belize in the first place.
This law was passed in 1924 in Adirondacks. Bold for sure. Disagreed with by many but MAN how SMART. To recognize what makes the area special and to preserve it. To recognize why people visit and spend money there.
We REALLY need to focus on this more on AC. We ALL do…I’m not pointing fingers. Well…maybe I am.
Our local government really needs to get their act together and lead the way. It’s not up to citizens groups or NGOs to regulate, it’s up to our government.
How can protecting our greatest economic asset seem not even be on their radar?
Like not allowing anyone (especially anyone with a few bucks) to do whatever they want but to set down regulations on areas like:
- Traffic and Parking (for example, large cars parking on busy roads, issuing approval to anyone who wants to truck or vehicle, allow more and more taxis rather than focus on public transport)
- Trash Pick up and disposal (for example, warnings and/or ticketing for dumping on public land – like when resorts are dumping across the street from their beautiful property – or in individuals’ own yard – when your yard is a trash heap, it influences the whole neighborhood) – My post: Trash on Ambergris Caye – When Do We Saw Enough is Enough?
- Signs and Billboards – in an age where EVERYONE is on social media and the internet, giant ugly billboards seem even MORE passe – more unnecessary – more out-of-date. Aside from that – they distract from what makes this island beautiful. Many of the signs on the island are falling apart or tout businesses that no longer exist.
And then it is the municipality’s job to enforce regulations. We have an aggressive ticketing traffic department, enforcement is not impossible.
If we allow the number of eyesores to keep growing, if we continue to make excuses for garbage everywhere and if we continue to vote for administrations that show no concern for OUR GREATEST ECONOMIC ASSET then…we are all going to find ourselves out of jobs and out of luck in a few years.
Our resort was a great place away from the traffic jams of San Pedro. – Tripadvisor Review
Ruined by filthy garbage everywhere – Tripadvisor Review
Anyway…I started writing a post about how happy I am to be home – and I AM! And I hope this doesn’t come off as outright criticism. I want to highlight rather than hide the beauty of this island.
I love Ambergris Caye so much and I really do think that if we all get on the same page about the future, we can all thrive.