Genesis Urged to turn St.Maarten to Garden Isle

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ST. MAARTEN, Netherlands Antilles (October 9, 2010) – Citizens of this Dutch Caribbean nation were urged to mark their new political status by taking practical steps to transform itself into a “Garden Isle.”

St. Maarten transitions to a more independent status in association with the Netherlands when its first Prime Minister takes the helm on Sunday, October 10, and Lelei LeLaulu of the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) who spoke at the culmination of several days of events marking World Tourism Day, called for a “genesis approach” of intensive planting and growing of flowers, plants and other life forms.

Photograph of Lelei LeLaulu is available at:

World Tourism Day this year focused on biodiversity and LeLaulu proposed St. Maarten’s new political status was “a wonderful opportunity to enhance biodiversity by growing plants, flowers and food – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also such a genesis makes economic sense to grow more local food for the bustling tourism industry.”

“Farmer to table initiatives boost incomes for small farmers while adding local dishes for tourists to savor,” he asserted, adding, “the coordinated growth of flowers attracts birds, butterflies, hummingbirds and other life forms, as well as tourists who love them.

“Hotels could host gardeners-in-residence to guide the beautification of hotel grounds, while voluntourist gardeners could help residents make this island bloom,” he suggested to stakeholders attending the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau’s World Tourism Day gala dinner at the Westin Dawn Beach Resort and Spa last month.

The natural beauty of St. Maarten.
Photograph available at:

Aside from beautifying the island’s coastal waters, LeLaulu pointed out, “planting mangroves protects resorts by forming a natural barrier to ocean surges, but mangroves are also fertile breeding grounds for fish and other forms of marine life.”

Regina LaBega, St. Maarten’s Director of Tourism, said biodiversity and tourism “are not foes unto death” and tourism had a responsibility to defend and preserve St. Maarten’s environment.

LaBega called for collaboration between government, private sector and non-governmental groups but she said it should be “legally wrong” for businesses to be set up shop “with utter disregard for the impact their operations would have on our biodiversity.”

About The Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx)

The Caribbean Media Exchange produces interactive symposia that match journalists from the Caribbean, North America and Europe with representatives of the government, business hospitality and development sectors to discuss tourism policies aimed at improving the lives of Caribbean people.

Since its inception in October 2001, CMEx has helped improve the quality of media coverage of sustainable tourism in the Caribbean; increase the media’s participation in the design of sustainable tourism policies; remind government decision makers of the impact of tourism on other sectors of the economy; and highlight the necessity of tourism to the economies of small island states.

Its mission is “to be the premier communications organization promoting sustainable tourism, through media and smart partnerships, to create holistic wealth for all peoples, including those in Latin America, the Caribbean and other Emerging Markets.”

For additional details, visit