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Letter: City lessons for Argyle International Airport
Published on September 13, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

Bermuda is an isolated British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean 1,070 km (665 mi) southeast of North Carolina, USA, and 1,578 km (981 mi) north of Puerto Rico. The capital city is the charming city of Hamilton. Given its geographical location, the “high season” is between May and October, a time when the weather is very agreeable in its main tourist market, the United States, which still sends about 85 percent of holiday visitors to the island chain. Overall, Bermuda receives some 600,000 tourists a year – three times as many as we in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) -- about half by cruise ship.

So why is this tiny quasi-colony archipelago (53 sq. km -- 21 sq. miles -- and 65,000 people) in the middle of nowhere with no winter “high season,” a time when so many North Americans and Europeans crave escaping the cold to travel to some tropical destination?

Apart from its light pink (yes, pink) silky-soft sand beaches, the answer is its charming capital, Hamilton.

A typical Bermuda beach

“Hamilton is not only the capital of Bermuda; it’s the beating heart. A picturesque harbour city graced with shops, museums, galleries and gardens, Hamilton is also the hub of international and local businesses.… [T]he City of Hamilton has a colourful, vibrant character. Take a walk through this historic town and take in the sea breezes, harbor views and the pastel palette of shops, galleries and restaurants. Hamilton … and its nearby parishes offer so much more; intoxicating gardens, historic churches, and an interactive aquarium and zoo, and all rolled into one.”

Together with its thriving financial industry – the number one income source -- no wonder Bermuda has the world’s highest per capita GDP.

Hamilton, Bermuda

Hamilton and surrounding parishes

Ferry at Hamilton waterfront

Elegant shops in upscale Hamilton

Clean and spacious streets, lots of garbage bins, and vendor-free sidewalks in Hamilton

Meanwhile, we paupers in SVG have Kingstown, a once alluring little gem of arches that has been allowed to decay decade after decade since the middle of the last century. Yes, there are many new buildings, but most of them are concrete block government monstrosities that badly clash with the charming older stone edifices.

The unappealing seaside area in Kingstown

Rundown and charmless Back Street with arched buildings disappearing

The dilapidated Little Tokyo area

The vendor and traffic congested area between Back and Bay Streets

Some Kingstown residents

Rusty Kingstown wharf

Which locals or visitors thrill to the wonders of this filthy, crowded, unregulated, rat-infested, and neglected excuse of a capital?

How can we possibly expect to attract tens of thousands of additional tourists to visit our homeland via the new Argyle airport when we have absolutely nothing to offer them by way of urban delights?


This is the 32nd in a series of essays on the folly of the proposed Argyle International Airport.

My other AIA pieces can be found below.

Get ready for a November election in St Vincent and the Grenadines! But which November?
Lessons for Argyle International Airport from Canada's Montreal-Mirabel International Airport
Lessons for Argyle International Airport from the cruise ship industry
Lessons from Target Canada for Argyle International Airport in St Vincent
Lessons from Trinidad and Tobago for Argyle International Airport
The dark side of tourism: Lessons for Argyle Airport
Why Argyle won't fly: Lessons from Dominica
Ken Boyea and the Phantom City at Arnos Vale
Airport envy Vincie-style
Fully realising our country's tourism potential
Airport without a cause
The unnatural place for an international airport
The Potemkin Folly at Argyle
False patriotism and deceitful promises at Argyle
Airport politics and betrayal Vincie-style
Phony airport completion election promises, Vincie-style
Is Argyle International Airport really a ‘huge game-changer for us’?
Has the cat got your tongue, prime minister?
More proof that Argyle won't fly
Our very own Vincentian cargo cult at Argyle
The missing Argyle Airport feasibility studies
The world's four most amazing abandoned airports
Farming, fishing, and foolish talk about Argyle International Airport
Argyle Airport amateur hour
St Vincent's place in the world of travel
Investing in St Vincent's tourism industry
The Argyle Airport Prophecy: What the numbers say
Did the IMF drink the Comrade's Kool-Aid?
Why Qatar? Why St Vincent and the Grenadines?
Foolish words about Argyle International Airport
'If I come, you will build it': Lessons from the Maldives for Argyle International Airport

C. ben-David
Reads: 7558

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Peter Binose:

Also I doubt that Bermudan men piss in the street like Vincentian men do.

James H:

Seeing Kingstown SVG juxtaposition Hamilton, Bermuda, the contrast is quite starkly glaring. Kingstown looks like some entity out of the medieval past. What a shame that we are so poorly served by successive governments whose officers swan off to other capitals enjoying the delights of a better environmental surrounding.

Those fools here, who continue to entertain the idea that they are living in a paradise, because of a narrative expressed in the distance past by European travellers, are most gullible. What a paradise Europe is today compared to the hellhole that is SVG.

Our buffoons here who continue to think that they are living in a paradise are the laughing stock of those travellers who occasionally venture off the visiting Cruise ship.

Peter Binose:

Unlike SVG’s Argyle Airport the original Bermuda airport called Kindley Airfield now L.F. Wade International Airport cost Bermuda nothing it was built between 1941 and 1943 as a joint US Army Air Forces (USAAF)/Royal Air Force (RAF) base named Kindley Field. At the end of World War II, the RAF left Bermuda.

The field, by then hosting civil as well as military aircraft, was operated by the United States Air Force as Kindley Air Force Base until 1970, when it was transferred to the United States Navy. The Navy operated it as US Naval Air Station, Bermuda until 1995, when it was transferred to the Bermuda Government’s Ministry of Tourism and Transport.

So the airport repairs and maintenance was paid for by the Americans right up to 1995. The Bermuda government then got it as a gift.

Ted Black:

Readers by now would no doubt pick sense out of nonsense from the likes of C.ben-David and Peter Bignose. These are two bitter-venomous snakes who after not getting what they thought they were entitled to, set out to destroy the ULP, the government, and the country - if they cannot have it, then no one else should have it.

It is clear from their lies and ramblings that their bitterness has no limits - they will stop at nothing to to destroy the government, even if it means going to a regional newspaper to show St.Vincent and the Grenadines in the worst possible way - exacerbating the very same problems they write about. Which patriotic person in his right mind will paint a country's image so bad in a regional newspaper? For what purpose? Granny always use to say 'nah wash yo dutty laundry in public!" Oh, by the way, these 2 have nothing to lose by destroying the government, economy and country - they have admitted that in their past ramblings. I think you both can do so much better if you started by being more patriotic and positive. Come on, cheer up, you did not get what you wanted from the ULP but all should not be doom and gloom. God is waiting for you with open arms!

Peter Binose:

So where Gonsalves put all of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines savings, income and borrowings into building Argyle Airport Bermuda put theirs into their town and infrastructure.

You are quite right David Kingstown is a dirty stinking shit hole.

c. ben-David:

Peter, when Bahamian men piss, they piss Dom Pérignon champagne.

As for Kingstown being a "dirty stinking shit hole" -- which it is -- there are tourists who love to suck up the "authentic poverty-stricken Caribbean" but as you well know this cohort of visitors represent mainly moneyless backpackers who are an insignificant and unwanted part of actual or potential visitors.

You could also have mentioned Grenada which got a free airport from Cuba and America.

As for you, James H., your comments are right on except that medieval would be an improvement over the condition of Kingstown.

Still, I can hardly fault locals who have never travelled because the degradation of Kingstown has been going on day by day, week by week, month by month, year by years since the end of World War II. So most people don't even pay notice to the rats, the filth, the stench, the congestion on roads and sidewalks, the broken pathways, etc.

But it would be grossly unfair to only blame the present regime, even though they have to accept more blame than others because of their preoccupation with tourism, a policy that was born with the previous Mitchell NDP government.

Patrick Ferrari:

C. ben,

When the tourists do not come, they are going to blame it on the global economy of the 2008 time.

When it comes to tourists and tourism, they do not have a clue – and do not care – which end is up.

C. ben-David:

No, Patrick, they are going to blame you, Peter Binose, and me for scaring off the tourists, airlines, and hospitality developers with all our negativism about St. Vincent's tourism potential.

Peter Binose:

We risk being seen as a ‘negative’ people when, in fact, we are simply being honest. And there’s a big difference between being negative and being honest.

Negativity is constant whining and complaining, doom and gloom, black and white. Honesty is telling the truth and its how we create positive change in our lives and those of fellow Vincentians.

Positive thinking, while it has many personal, social and spiritual benefits, can numb us into a false sense of OK-ness. When we think everything is OK there's no motivation to improve. I’ll even go as far to say that seeing life from a ‘everything’s just great’ perspective is nothing more than delusion. When we look only at the positive we delude ourselves into believing that everything is great, when really — it’s not and little by little we compromise our values, our standards and our potential. We end up settling for the worst instead of the best.

C. ben-David:

I agree, Peter, which is why I should have written "negativism" to emphasize that the authorities would try to shoot the messenger rather than blame themselves.


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