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STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
-irIe Dally -Ne1r- -J3rne 27. 1997
a laughing matter
Some people might laugh at me
when I speak out about protecing
the islands' envisooment.
Is it funny? Did you over won-
der why the tourist industry on St.
Croix never really takes off? You
see, we often forget these islands
economical history. Historically. St.
Thomas was always a island of
trade because of tm natural hbaber:
This was established from Colonial
Clearly. St. Them$ remained a
valuable piece of property. IW loca-
tion relative to the major axes of
West Indian trade and navigation
along with its excellent, well-pro-
tected harbor made It an island of
considerable potential" said
Reimert Heagasen, a Danish
planter on St. Croix to the 1700*s.
The same sentiment was echoed
when Hohan Carstens a Thomian
planter. "because of the conve-
nience in getting there and the ece
tof navigation that the island
enjoyed that people frm the neigh-
boring areas in the West Indies
sought to trade and dispose of their
St. Thomas Harbor was well
Imown for hu dreda of ships beside
local vessels sailing in and out of
the harbor carrying goods. "The
harbor was alive with a display of
ships flying their lags and booming
their cannons all day long. It was
the commercial, not the agricultur-
alt aspect of the sugar enterprise
that was to mold the desiny of St.
Thomas," Haagensen said.
Thus, St. Thomas was built on
tourism in the early history before
tourism became a major indusoy in
the 20th century in the Virginth
And as a people, we failed to
laem our past history. Denmark rec-
ognized the potential each island
had to offer to the economy. Why.
as a people, can't we recognize that
the St. Thomas economical make
up is different from St. Croix?
From the early settlement of St.
Croixt, the Danish government rec-
ognized agriculture as the basic
economy because of its flat fertile
land and northwest hills.
Did you think the many sugar
mills and great houses dotting the
landscape of St. Croix came by
accident? Of course not. These
structures were built on the founda-
tion of a strog agricultural econo-
my. Is fact, by the end of the 18th
CentMry, St. Croix had come to be
recognized as one of the major
Carie m sanperpowers.
So Interesting are these old
buildings that the Danish Govern-
mert many years ago wan interested
in dismantling a typical plantation
mansion to be rebuilt in Denmark.
Today. Whim museum great house
is one of the golden age 17th centu-
ry architectural gems that display
antique fumiture and Illustrate life
for slaves and whiles on the island
when sugar cue was ing
You se, tourism has long been
considered asan attractive means of
economic development. It is a
labor-intensive industry which, in
addition to stimulating direct
employment, also spreads benefits
throughout the entire economy by
filing the service and constuction
sectors while stimulating the
demand for local product.
However. the gestation period
for most tourism investment is rela-
tively abort. and economic benefits
accrue much faster from tourism
developments than from many other
capital-intenive industries. To be
successful, the tourism industry
must start with an in-depth market
To me, for St. Croix to boost
tourism, it must focus on historical
structures, agricultural architectures
and cultural and environmental
resources of the island. Do we want
St. Croix to look hlke St. 1Thmas0.
where almost every Inch of the
island is developed into a concrete
When tourists visit St. Croix,
they ask about the rain forest bus
tours, hikes. historical sites and
local products. Believe me, tourists
do not want to visit K-Mart or
They want to taste fungi and
fis kaalioo, johnny cakes. maubi,
bush tea, coconut water, "Miss BIy-
den" drink and other local dishes.
Local dance is also important to our
visitors. St. Croix has so much to
offer. If we will only develop and
take advantage of our rich cultural
and environmental heritage.
I am not a prophet. I am just a
Thomian who cares for these
islands environment and economi-
Osrer Daves. who has a mster
of cicnce degree t range numanege-
tmer and )oresty ecotiogy. is a St.
Croix eciogire, actvist nad wrrte..