St Helena: Trust in Tourism?

The National Trust of St Helena

Small island, big on history, stupendous natural scenery, heritage, small population, limited employment, limited communications, a long way from anywhere – but we are moving forwards of our own volition and we have a vision!

What does one make of such a list of recipe ingredients? Hopefully a melange, carefully construed and crafted that will stimulate local pride, kick-start employment and special skills trades, and begin to open a new menu of island skills that support and benefit from conservation.

What brewing method to use to ensure an excellent product that will serve well now and in the longterm future? That is where the skill comes in at co-operative participation of island authorities, local NGOs, international assistance, kickstart funds, innovation and gentle entrepreneurship.

The product – tourism – yes – to an extent – but from world examples we know never to put all our eggs in one basket. A rough sea stops them from landing via small boats, airport under construction, but will it be ready on time? Preparation is a chicken and egg situation – who will build for the “maybe” tourist and will the first tourists to generate support be prepared to accept what we have now, or will they want the 5 star resorts?

We believe that a mix of St Helena courtesy, friendliness and generosity, due caution, and optimism, coupled with the existing knowledge of what people want when they visit the island, will carry us through. This has to be coupled with caution, lessons learned and  experiences elsewhere, especially from small-island situations and aid to establish those facilities that are needed for greater numbers of visitors.

But absolutely most importantly is the ingredient we have not really mentioned – “If local people do not want it, it will not happen” was said recently here. We need to generate pride, the right to participate and benefit from support and earnings, and the wish to maintain what we have for the future generations.

St Helena

St Helena

So, High Knoll Fort, Pierie’s Revenge, Wirebird, Spiky Yellow Woodlouse, Mole Spider, Large Jellicoe, Teaplant and Gumwood – we see you now, we know you are in danger and in need of maintenance and we are looking into finding solutions. We are proud of our inheritance, we are ready to hand it on in better condition to the next generation, in better condition than we received it after centuries of ignorant exploitation and benign neglect.

We are aware of the “Before-times”, we are looking to the future.

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