Junior Minister for Trade & Economic Development, Shereen Flax-Charles has said she does not believe moving vendors from the shoreline at Long Bay Beach will impact their economic activity.
The legislator said moving them would rather stimulate their revenue-earning as more space would mean more people to enjoy the beach and eventually engage in business with vendors.
Speaking at the Long Bay Beach Management Community Meeting, Flax-Charles said there needs to be a balance in protecting the pristine environment of the territory and the economic activities that are derived from utilising natural resources.
The junior minister also shared a personal experience she had with The Baths in Virgin Gorda and having to move her concession stand off the shoreline.
“Many persons might have known that I have a vending concession at The Baths in Virgin Gorda and I have it from 1980-something from when I was in high school and initially when I started out we were actually right under the grape tree in the sand, closest to the sea, selling our shirts, our souvenirs etcetera,” Flax-Charles said.
“When the National Park got some funding from somewhere in Europe to install some concession buildings, it was not a feeling of, ‘okay, are we included, are we going to make more money or less money if we are further off the beach itself’. And I can say from experience, moving off of the beach itself from under the sea grape trees in the sand made a major difference,” the Junior Trade Minister said.
She noted the benefits were not limited to an economic standpoint for her and the other vendors, but it also made a difference for the visitors that came to the beach.
Flax-Charles said visitors had more space to lie in the sand and they had more shade.
“I know that persons are sceptical, and each beach is different but what I can say is if it is done right as what was done at The Baths — protecting the environment firstly — the economic benefit will still be there for the vendors,” she said.
“I can safely say that the plan that the National Park has works for both the vendors as well as the persons that visit the beach. I would say to the vendors, don’t be discouraged. Don’t feel that things are being done to take bread out of your mouth,” she continued.
The junior minister said she thinks it is an opportunity for people to enjoy the beach more and when they enjoy the beach, the economic spin-off for vendors will be greater.
“I know that some persons might not feel that way because of the proximity to where people actually layout but from experience, moving away from the sand, giving visitors whether locals or tourists the opportunity to use that space, it also gives them a better experience in enjoying the beach and therefore they are more open to spending their money,” Flax-Charles said.
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