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St Helena : St Helena: Recent News (121006)
Submitted by Saint Helena Herald (Public Relations Information Office) 06.10.2012 (Article Archived on 20.10.2012)

Often we hear that the issues faced by St Helena are unique, or that other places donít face challenges like we do. This got me thinking and I began researching other Islands.

St Helena: Recent News (121006)


 


Often we hear that the issues faced by St Helena are unique, or that other places donít face challenges like we do. This got me thinking and I began researching other Islands.


 


One Island I know is Phi Phi, a small Island off the coast of Thailand. It is no bigger than 6kms by 4kms, but hosts some of the best diving in Thailand. In the 1990s only the very adventurous travellers made it to this deserted Island. Now the Island is booming.


 


However, Phi Phiís story between 1990 and 2012 is marred by a terrible catastrophe. On Boxing Day in 2004 the Indian Ocean Tsunami devastated the Island. At the time there were approximately 10,000 people on the Island (including tourists). It is estimated 4,000 of these lost their lives. At least 104 of the surviving children lost one or both parents. Furthermore, the infrastructure of the Island was devastated Ė with an estimated 70% of buildings flattened.


 


Today the Island is a thriving tourism destination. Even in the rainy season, there are many tourists on the Island and there is plenty of money being injected into the economy.


 


The Island is undoubtedly more developed than the 1990s and as a result has undoubtedly lost some of its charm and beauty. But for this price the Island can now sustain a greater population and provide opportunities for its young to prosper.


 


What does this mean for St Helena?


 


What does this mean for St Helena? Nothing. At least not directly. But in my mind it raised the following questions:


 


Q1. Phi Phi went through a catastrophe greater than we could possibly imagine on St Helena, and lost so much. Yet in the space of no more than eight years they have transformed the economy well beyond anything what we want to achieve here.


 


So why are we not being more ambitious?


This question is reinforced by the experience of the UK. Speaking to old colleagues and friends in the UK, they ask about St Helenaís plans for the future. The overwhelming message is that one or two hotels and 500-1000 tourists at any one time (i.e. 30,000 a year) are very small numbers. To people looking at St Helena from the outside this seems modest.


 


Q2. The main reason Phi Phi recovered as it has is the drive of its people. Yes reconstruction funds and technical support were provided, but it was the desire of the local community to rebuild, coupled with Thaiís incredible productivity and work ethic, that made the difference.


 


So how do we create the drive to improve and change on St Helena?


Again the UK experience reinforces this. The UK remains in real economic trouble, a position it has now been in for many years. This has created a focus from the highest level politicians and business leaders to concentrate on recovery, to accept the pain now in order to ensure future prosperity.


 


Looking at the progress made on Phi Phi and the UK it is clear to me that St Helena has every opportunity to achieve its goals for the next ten years, providing we all go for it.

 

This article is the Property and Copyright of Saint Helena Herald.

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