Speaking of corruption
Recently, a candidate for office urged residents not to make allegations of corruption in the Virgin Islands. Such talk, he said, can hinder the government’s efforts to secure international funding. A Beaconite agrees that no one should make such allegations without proof. On the other hand, corruption is a very real worry here given that the territory still lacks some very basic safeguards like freedom-of-information legislation, an ethics law, campaign finance regulations and a functioning register of legislators’ interests. Perhaps instead of attempting a gag order, legislators should concern themselves with enacting such measures. After all, they have been promising to do so for years with minimal action. Moreover, the government has yet to keep its promise to properly account for how it spent the donations it received after Hurricane Irma — a fact that seems much more likely than unfounded rumours to dissuade potential donors. Once transparency is the norm and sound good-governance measures are in place, international funding will doubtlessly be much easier to come by. The Beaconite hopes candidates will focus their efforts accordingly.
A Beaconite has been living and working in the territory for a little over a year and a half, and would like to think she’s tried her best to explore some of the best spots the Virgin Islands has to offer. But over the weekend she realised just how many of the smaller islands she’s missed — some of them because they’re private, and others because they’re difficult or expensive to access. Luckily, various charter and rental companies offer trips to less populated locations that too often go unnoticed (at a range of price points). As the reporter toured around the little beaches of Guana Island and some of the isolated hillsides of Great Camanoe via boat on Sunday, she noticed how much difference a change in perspective makes to a place you think you know well — and how many residents in the territory have a very different idea of what it means to live here.
The BVI Tourist Board’s slogan is “nature’s little secrets.” Cynical residents believe they’ve all been discovered long ago, along with the rest of the world. But this past weekend, one of these “secrets” managed to surprise a Beaconite. She was invited to hop aboard a boat in East End, Tortola to see the legendary Anegada conch piles. This is a stunning wonder dating to prehistory and containing thousands of conchs that, according to her guide, can even be seen from space. Along the way, the Beaconite’s guide helped explain why such a stunning site still remains “nature’s little secret,” and why Anegadans remain fiercely protective of their quiet, traditional way of life. Outsiders love Anegada, but they tend to suggest things like high rise resorts and golf courses that many residents believe wouldn’t fit the aesthetic and may harm its pristine beauty. Likewise, the Beaconite wants to tell the world about Anegada, but knows that if too many people come, it won’t be the same. “It’s all about finding the best way to grow,” said her guide, who was full of ideas. Fun activities like parasailing or skydiving can give tourists even more of a reason to come to Anegada, while not requiring a lot of space and preserving the character of the islands. Accommodation is needed; hotels there are often booked and the island may be losing some revenue from those who would like to come but can’t find a place to stay. As long as they are built to be eco-friendly, overwater bungalows, such as those found in Fiji and the South Pacific, could take advantage of Anegada’s clear, shining waters as well as being “Instagram-friendly.” By following the lead of residents who live in the community and understand what it needs, growth can happen the right way.