Cole Simons: A Vision for Our Beaches

January 12, 2011

simons-cole[Written by Cole Simons, Shadow Minister for Tourism] The Government must develop a vision and plan for the use of our public beaches.

These national treasures have become embroiled in controversy in recent years because there is no overriding vision for their use and because the ground rules are not clear.

Ongoing battles over the use and development of beaches involving developers, environmentalists, nearby residents and even the courts indicate the need for clarity.

Bermuda has to strike the right balance between two basic types of beach experience – beaches that provide the all-natural, commercial-free experience that preserves the pristine qualities of the island and beaches that provide commercial services and amenities for its users.

Without a vision and plan, Bermuda’s beaches will continue to be subject to ad hoc pitched battles that waste resources and create ill will.

We believe one of the core aims in developing a vision for our beaches is to make sure that beaches that see a lot of visitor and local traffic provide the appropriate level of facilities and amenities.

We want people to have the best possible beach experience and, in some instances, this means meeting their needs. As an Island, we are in the hospitality business and we have to be cognizant of the fact that if we send hundreds of people to a beach on any given day we have to provide for them.

Our beaches are our premier national attractions – at least from a tourism point of view – and so it behooves us to manage these natural resources in a manner that first protects their beauty and second that strikes the right balance between their natural integrity and the needs of users.

Some beaches should be left untouched and protected as nature reserves. Others need to be prudently managed so that families and visitors alike have access to well-run facilities and programmes from food and drink, to lounge chairs and umbrellas, to summer movies, theatre and music, to water-born activities and of course bathrooms.

We make this call because we see it as one area we can improve the experience of life in Bermuda, for residents and visitors alike.

It is certainly something the new Tourism Board should consider.

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Comments (19)

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  1. Graeme Outerbridge says:

    Good points but I would add that even at the beaches that have facilities,they should be done in an environmental way with as much green principles as possible. The beaches that need proper up grades are Horseshoe, Shelly Bay, Tobacco Bay, Clearwater and John Smith’s Bay. All other public Beaches should be left as natural as possible with minimum facilities.

  2. Bottom Line says:

    We need to think out of the box when it comes to serving our tourists better at the beaches. Specifically, we Bermudians need to change our mind set…and case in point is the submission to create an exclusive resort on Hawkins Island. First, I support the proposal over at Hawkins Island. That said, this development will destroy 100x the environment than the proposed temporary structure at the west end of Warwick Long Bay could/will ever do. I therefore ask all those who have been vocal supports of the Hawkins Island proposal whether or not they supported the mentioned temporary structure in Warwick? If not, then I will like to know why. My thoughts? I think that if a project is big enough, beautiful enough and exclusive enough then we place the environment behind the $$ (big time). But when we have a little guy who wants to erect a small temporary structure to better serve the tourist, then we all get on the environment bandwagon cause that little guy simply does not impress our wallets enough. Bottom Line? The Hawkins Island retreat will serve far, far less tourists than any proposed development at Warwick Long Bay, but it will be praised as being the best thing that ever happened to tourism in recent times. It will be interesting to see how hard Stuart Hayward & Co. fight to kill the Hawkins Island project. And “no” I have no idea who is (or was) behind the Warwick proposal. What I will state is that we Bermudians need to start placing things into context and stop being all “holier than thou” when a little guy wants to do (quite a lot really) to enhance the Bermuda tourist product.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      The huge difference Hawkins Island & the public beaches is just that. The public beaches are owned by the PUBLIC. Hawkins Island is privately owned & is subject to zoning & the DAB.

  3. Terry says:

    Good points Graeme. These up grades, what do you mean by that. Most that you mention are frequented by locals.

    The East End beaches are null and void. There are no cruise ships that venture there. And the few tourists that do travel by air stay in reasonable accomidation.

    As for all other public beaches, I would assume and stand to be corrected that you focus on Warwick Long Bay.

    Still lost though. Locals have no problem, bring a cooler et al…………

  4. THANKS GRAEME GREAT POINT KEEP THE GOOD WORK UP IM OFF ISLAND IN BARBADOS TILL MAY2011

  5. Triangle Drifter says:

    I’ll go along with Graeme too. Keep your grimey money grubbing paws off the beaches. If there are going to be any services at the remaining beaches they should be portable, i.e. on wheels & removed every day. There used to be a lunch cart down at Warwick Long Bay, actually in the carpark. That was fine IMO. Church Bay had a snorkel & beach umbrella concessionaire.

    I have been to many US state parks in many states camping. Also National Parks & Canadian provicial parks. They ALL charge a user fee, usually a per vehicle fee. Camping fees are either inclusive or in addition to the user fee.

    The large well known National Parks such as Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite & others have concessionaires which run the restaurants, the hotels, everything except the maintenance of the parks themselves.

    The state parks usually have nothing. No restaurants, no accomodation, maybe canoe rentals or something simple as such. Campground offices are usually run by park staff, not a concessionaire. No private enterprize involved at all except maybe toilet maintenance. Restroom facilities can be as basic as porta potties, vault toilets (EEEYUUUK), or proper restrooms with running water.

    The point is, not much is needed to make the public beach facilities what the visitor is used to at home.

    • Mr. Stevens says:

      You’re not taking into account that Bermuda is a tourist attraction- not a state park, and that Yosemite and the Grand Canyon are the nearest equivalents of what tourist product we had come to expect here in our blessed Isles in our heyday.My point is, not only do want to meet, but also to exceed what tourists have come to expect at home…Things Are Better In Bermuda as a literal phrase, feel me?

  6. White Jesus says:

    I see where this is going so I’ll attempt to nip it in the bud.
    I agree that [quote] “Some beaches should be left untouched and protected as nature reserves. Others need to be prudently managed ……….[unquote] And I’ll add… NONE of them should have a bar, especially Warwick Long Bay.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      That is a very important comparison I neglected to include. In the vast majority of states, alcohol in their state parks is NOT sold. In the campgrounds you are permitted to have alcohol but not permitted to move from your campsite to another with drink in hand. Likewise at a state beach that does allow alcohol you may NOT stroll the beach with drink in hand.

      So, NO alcohol sold at a PUBLIC beach is nothing new to N Americans.

  7. Terry says:

    Everyone wants a piece of the action. There is none. Unless of course yiur name is ………

    Bettersell my local stock soon…….^-^

  8. 177BC says:

    I think that everyone here has great points!!! I wouls Have to agree with the point made regarding leaving some beaches alone and having others managed. I think that having food and beverages both alcoholic and non-alcoholic is the first step and I don’t mean serving alcohol at every beach either, but maybe 2 or 3 of the most popular beaches!!!

    I also agree with the facilities needing to be upgraded and continuously maintained…..anywhere else in the world there would be a constant rotation of staff keefing the facilities clean and in working order, Bermuda needs to get it togather!!!

    Yes, the mindset of Bermuda needs to change and not neccessarily outside the box but maybe to expanding the box and what the box offers. Bermuda needs to ind that “balance” between our history and heritage and forward movement and furture progression, we are so stuck in our ways that the world is passing us by and vacationing elsewhere!!! the big companies are picking up and moving so we need to start thinking about taking the perverbial “one step back” i.e. the way we did hospitality 15-20 years ago, along with “taking two steps forward” i.e. food, beverages, activities and clean facilities on our beaches.

    The beaches aren’t the only tourism issue but at least its a start in some direction…even if we were to try it out for ONE season and see how it goes…it won’t hurt!!! We aren’t like the Carribean and have 12 month summers so let’s try it on for size for just one summer and take it from there!!!

  9. Sara says:

    Bermuda needs to go back to the basics. Everything is sub par and overpriced for the value in tourism.
    Perhaps start with clean beaches ALL tourist season long! Get the men/women in jail to clean up beaches EVERY morning, after all it the public purse that pays for their stay in jail.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Not a bad idea. While they are at it they can clean the sides of the roads too.
      Use people who are nearing their release date. You run, you back in for more time.

      Keeping facilities clean is VERY important to Americans. Once a day cleaning of restrooms is not good enough. Ever noticed how clean highway rest stop restrooms are kept? How about airport restrooms? That is the level of cleanliness they expect & demand.

      Don’t believe me? Take a look on a site like http://www.rvparkreviews.com & see how much importance is placed on a clean restroom.

  10. Fed Up Bermudian says:

    The vision is already crystal clear: no further development allowed. Want some clarity? Well, ‘no’ is a perfectly clear and valid answer. This place won’t be worth living in if we keep bending the rules in favour of the not-so-mighty dollar. What’s wrong with people these days? Because the answer isn’t what you want to hear, it doesn’t count as an answer??? Or, it’s somehow unclear merely because you disagree? Grow up and make better use of what you already have. No means no. Case closed. Why spend more public funds debating the issue and studying various impacts??? Upgrade the facilities in the above mentioned places, and leave the rest alone. Greed killed piggy, is what my granny always said. What will it take to get over this sense of entitlement?

    • Bottom Line says:

      No to everything eh? I guess your situation in life is well taken care of.

      • Fed Up Bermudian says:

        What’s that supposed to mean? You think I’m wealthy or white because I think our natural beauty is worth looking after? My situation in life as you put it, is well taken care of because as I work hard and don’t whine about what I don’t have. What a presumption- so that’s it, then? Environmentalists simply have nothing else to worry about in their lives? Wow, who knew. I guess I’ll quit my underpaid job tomorrow since apparently my ‘situation’ is ‘well taken care of’. Thanks for that- nothing but leisure time for me from now on. I suppose I’ll go and join the Yacht Club and buy a house in Tucker’s Town while I’m at it.

  11. However says:

    Um – The Planning Dept already HAS zoned all the beaches, and the 2008 planning effort was explicitly designed to deal with these issues. The Parks Act was just revised too, and that deals with all these issues. Surely the Shadow Minister should know all this.

  12. wondering says:

    we need to get with the times and have proper controls in place……Bermuda is ultra conservative and this has destroyed more than just the beach bar concept. We have a problem with drinking already (so perhaps we will have a shuttle service for intoxicated tourists) and low tourism #’s, so one beach bar isn’t going to make a dent in the economy and at the same time it will be a windfall for Mr Thomas as it will be a niche market (smart guy) which will benefit small pockets of the community and employ only a few Bermudians, say a maximum of 5-10 seasonal workers?…..for a short period.

    you don’t think he will hire Bermudians over a cheap labour force of say “Asian descent”? NO OFFENCE TO ANYONE OF ANY RACE COLOUR OR CREED!

    just look at the makeup of most of the semi successful Bermudian owned bars/restaurants that don’t have to scrape by to maintain a decent profit margin and then look at their staff………
    Note: all of the typical rants on this site are over in 5 hours…imagine that (Messrs and Misses Burchall – attention span lol!!)