Letter to the editor by Clarisse Buma
A wealthy investor from the European Netherlands has built a luxury hotel along the wild Atlantic side of Sint Eustatius. An impulse for tourism is to be welcomed, because Statia is a wonderful destination for hiking and diving. In addition, the hotel creates new jobs.
However, the chosen location of the hotel is curious to say the least. There is no access to the sea. Meters high cliffs separate the land from the water. Swimming in the sea is also dangerous, because of the strong current. Because of that swimming at Zeelandiabeach, also on the Atlantic side, is prohibited.
I was therefore very shocked when I saw on Google Earth that an illegal path to the sea was dug out during construction of the hotel, which started around 2019. Parts of the path have since collapsed. I can’t imagine the local government allowed this! The cliffs consist of sand, stones and volcanic remains. They are soft and fragile.
A hotel on the Caribbean side is already on the verge of closing due to cliff collapse. Behind the runway, parts of the cliff have been washed away. And now this!
The path creates risks for the Sint Eustatius National Marine Park, which starts at the bottom of the cliff. This underwater National Park is internationally protected and of unique beauty. It is home to corals, sea turtles, fish and sharks. Sand ends up in the sea due to eroding cliffs, while corals need clear water.
Incidentally, the rumble at the cliff is also a risk for the hotel itself. There is a very deep pool close to the cliff. What does this do to the stability? The cliff is your natural coastal defense against the effects of climate change. And, how is the drinking water supply of the hotel actually arranged?
The Hague put the local government aside in 2017 because of neglect of duty and lawlessness. But it seems that not enough has been done since then to reverse the negative effects of this hotel on nature? Enforce the legislation! Or does the old saying apply here: he who pay decides?
Clarisse Buma, former inhabitant of Sint Eustatius