13 November, 2009


I get really angry when I read an uninformed tourism promotion article about Anguilla.  If you are a real Anguillian, visit this stupid article.  In the breathless prose we expect from tourism industry advertising hacks, we are invited to “succumb to this island’s charms.”  There follows all the usual rubbish about “crystal clear turquoise waters”. 
Perhaps the most annoying part of the article is the nonsense about The People.  Apparently, our island policies have resulted in a prosperous population in Anguilla with a good education system and a proud heritage.  Yuck! Yuck!  For those of us on the front line, the one thing you notice in our schools is how totally uneducated our school population is.  There is no good education system “with a proud heritage” in Anguilla.  Our graduating children can hardly read or write.  That is a fact.  As for the prosperous population, I have a few unemployed friends I would like to introduce you to.
The author blithely reports that there is only one criminal in Anguilla, and he has been caught.  She writes that the last crime wave in Anguilla involved one young person who was responsible for a few break-ins and minor thefts that were a challenge to the island’s reputation.  His arrest, and the community’s disapproval, served as a lesson to anyone with similar intent.  Please, I want to puke!  Who fed this author on free meals and drinks?
This would be embarrassing if it was written by a blogger. But it was published by Macleans.  This is the Time Magazine of Canada.  It is embarrassing and unprofessional, and the author does not spel so good either!
The only thing that makes sense in the article is the advice that “if you don’t arrive on your own yacht or your own jet, you’ll have to travel via St Maarten”.  I can only conclude that Donna must be doing a great job of promoting our subsidized, very expensive, alternative transportation to Anguilla.
Related Posts:


  1. OH-oh. The Tsarina's not going to be amused. She TOLD us this was none of our business. Don, you are somewhat slack about taking instructions.

  2. Way to go, Don. Be as falsely negative as the piece is positive and hurt business. That will do us all the world of good. But I'm glad you feel better to get it off your chest.

    Now that you've killed off a couple of visits or so to AXA, why don't you just start a one-man campaign to destroy the whole economy every time you read something that's not perfect? Sad.

  3. Don, I normally agree with you, but--this time--you have missed the mark. First, although accuracy and positive statements are irrelevant to one another, the piece is clearly favorable to Anguilla (again, that conclusion does not speak to its accuracy). Second, this is tourism journalism, not an investigative piece by a pre-eminent newspaper or magazine. Third--and, most importantly--perception is reality to most of the magazine's readers: for better or for worse, the perception is that Anguilla is more prosperous, better educated, more literate, more highly functional than most vacation destinations. Whether that is true, I will leave to our readers to decide (I certainly believe those things to be true relative to our neighbors and other tourist destinations throughout the world).

    Many would-be tourists are fearful--fearful of making any decision (destination A versus destination B); fearful of making airline reservations; fearful of the weather when they get there (too hot/too cold, too wet/too dry); and--for real--fearful that the host population will be unreceptive, inefficient, indifferent, let alone down right dangerous, hostile, malicious, and incompetent.

    Most of us who live or spend substantial amounts of time here are relatively experienced travelers--most of us cast our lot with Anguilla for just the reasons that the travel writer cited. Is Anguilla going through a down financial period? Of course it is. Is it lower than other destinations? If so, it is only because we were higher (more prosperous and, therefore, had a greater distance to fall). And--for sure--I will take our citizens over those of any place I have ever been (could they--like all of us--improve? you bet; are they the best? absolutely).

    As for the state of education today, alas--but isn't that what every generation has always said about the younger ones (the old musical, Bye-Bye Birdie, had the song with the lyric, "Why can't they be like we were, perfect in everyway--what the matter with kids today?"

    I take the author as being more accurate about Anguilla than I take your comments. As ever, nonetheless, thanks for your thought-provoking piece (and your posting this comment to critique your points).

  4. Is the real Don Mitchell on vacation?
    Who is fronting his blog lately?
    Or has something terrible happened to him?
    What in the world possessed you to write this piece of crap, Don?
    Whether you happen to approve or not, guests come to AXA for one reason, having their sunny vacation requirements met.
    If you think for one minute that the majority of guests that come to your island care anything about what happens "inside", you'd be wrong. No one is interested in coming into your house to see dirty dishes sitting in the sink or floors not scrubbed. We want to read your usually quite sane blog, and that's about it.
    I have always been a champion of you and your blog, though I admittedly stepped back in horror at your easy approval of that out-and-out torture blog you posted, which took me back a peg about your fineness as a human being. And now this.
    Release him please. I want the real Don Mitchell back again before it's too late.

  5. This is called speaking fluff, if you told the truth about the crime here it would scare off the tourists. Anguilla is certainly not tranquillity wrapped in blue and never was.

  6. Truth in travel writing is important. It was not too long ago that people were arriving in Anguilla with their golf clubs only to find that, contrary to the information in the travel articles, the golf course had not yet been completed. Anguilla is experiencing many of the same problems that are being experienced all over the world. If Ms. Christie had been a part of some of the open discussions that have been occurring on Anguilla, she might have written positively about these too. That is a good thing. But no island can survive on well-meaning fluff-n-stuff. Real problems need attention. An island that encourages the free voice of its people is one that will identify and grapple with its problems and so always improve. Anguillians are not inclined to place their heads into the tropical sand. Three cheers for calling for truth in travel writing. The fresh air of truthful and free discussion will also draw tourists.

  7. "Anguilla is certainly not tranquillity wrapped in blue and never was"

    The one question I have for the person who wrote those words, is how long have you been living in Anguilla? Actually, I have a follow up question, when the heck (can't use the word I want to) are you leaving?

    For some one who was born raised and lived in Anguilla for over thirty years I will not stand for that blatant disrespect for this Island. Many of us remember when Anguilla was tranquil and it can be again. And for you to stay there and make such a statement and hide behind an anonymous post, if you are still on Anguilla, I wish you would leave.

  8. Interesting. Ever since my first visit to Anguilla more than a decade ago, I've been fascinated by the choices made in tourist slogans and languiage. I remember the slogan "Anguilla: wraped in blue" (spelling error intended), and many other enticing one-line musings intended to put a memorable drop of the island's beauty and charm in the memories of new and returning tourists so that they would think fondly of Anguilla and return again. Some of them worked an dothers were more like graffiti, but I found them at least as warm and welcoming as the island truly aspires to be. Anguilla and Anguillians are deeply aware of the importance of tourism to their economy, perhaps even more so now with the slumped economy effecting people's spending choices.

    However, I would say that there is a strange dichotomoy between tourism language that is freely sputtered out to every visitor at every turn, and the true face of life in Anguilla. Let's be truthful - Anguillians don't live in hotels and lie around on beaches all day long - no, they are hardworking people who wake up every morning to make a living to feed and clothe their families, just like the tourists that visit Anguilla in their precious annual two-week vacations. Yet on the island these two worlds seem to freely overlap to the point where it may be difficult for the people of Anguilla to see the separation. Last year, in an official tourism brochure I was shocked and appalled to see a two page spread with uber-modern villas on one page and a few of the island's most delightful, old, brightly-coloured gingerbread wooden houses on the facing page, with the words "Accept Change" across both. Who was this ad for? Tourists? Anguillians? Will the Anguillians in those houses be moving into modern villas? What was wrong with the old places? Very confusing, and frankly, I found it both insulting to the local people and overtly dismissive of their rich cultural heritage.

    The article in Mcleans, aside from the fact that it is inaccurate in many places, is continuing the habit of mixing tourist and local life without discretion. I agree that truth-telling is important - both in travel writing and in talking about local life and issues. If it's a tourist article, there's not really much of a place for such (erroneous) tidbits of information as the one inmate story (wouldn't that be nice) and the credit to the school system (according to a recent edition of The Anguillian, UWI Anguilla is now celebrating a whole class of "graduants"). The local community is a wonderful one, but like most commuinties there are some things that need a lot of work, and I suspect they will get more attention when issues aren't sugar-coated with tourist-centric idioms.

  9. Facebook: November 15 at 1:46pm
    Hi xxxx,

    Not to worry about Realist's invective. He/she is a deranged spin doctor for the AUF, who must have had a crush on me which I rebuffed without realising it. She is a clear case of a woman scorned. She started to produce her nastiness when I was involved in the libel litigation with the Ministers. She has continued to publish the most illiterate and vituperative plays on words on her own blog. She tries to publish stuff on my blog under various other aliases, but I decline to let it go on. I gather that her efforts are doing no good for the reputation of the AUF.

    The conflicts of interest, feather bedding, and nest lining that have been going on among the leaders and officers of the AUF party are typical of any party that has been in power for more than two terms. It is no different to what goes on in the UK, or Trinidad. It is time for a spring cleaning. I do not know how many voters realise that. My hope is that Anguillians will give the APP a chance. If they turn out to be incompetent or greedy, we can throw them out after one term. If they are very good, we should send them home for a rest after they have served two terms. Under no circumstances should Anguillians permit the AUF, no matter how many new faces they produce, to continue to swill at the trough. Anguillians deserve better.

    Keep well,


  10. Interesting observations. During the rapid economic development of the past 30 years, many of us have left our heritage behind us, instead of embracing it with pride.

    Some of us are now trying to encourage this by popularising our history, shipwrecks, what is left of our built environment and what it is that makes Anguillians different from our brothers and sisters on nearby islands.

    On the Mare Show Saturday morning, Pam Webster observed, perhaps for the first time, that there are young men sitting on the wall and that they are angry. We have built a new Anguilla and many of them believe there is no place in it for them. This is a major problem, and lecturing them about having pride in their heritage may not be enough ti get them to emulate their hard working grandparents. The Department and Ministry of Education now have some fine, forward looking staff. I hope the economy improves soon so that the programmes they are ready to put in place can be properly funded.

  11. This is travel writing - they always get it dead wrong. To all the anonymous posters here, why pile on Don? This is a great "gadfly" blog - the man is a contrarian and not afraid to speak the truth and put his name and his face on it. Don't be afraid to tell the truth! Most tourism journalism is unmitigated crap - how can you come down on the guy for pointing this out?

  12. Realist Spikenice: "This amongst to treason".

    The more Realist publishes, the more damage he does to his cause.

    I think this quote from Obama is the best reply that could be made to his stupidness:

    "I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable," Obama told students during his first-ever trip to China. "They can begin to think for themselves."

    I guess what's good enough for China IS NOT good enough for AXA!

  13. I know that it is "tourist journalism" and that means that it is skewed to the positive, but it is directed at a specific readership--those that want a problem-free vacation. Local Anguillians were never meant to read it. Can't condemn the author because it got to the "locals."

    That being said: in the ideal world, truth would abound in all things. Instead of focussing on the negatives in all things, we should strive to improve to make the rosy picture truer in every sense.

    Mention in one of the posts was of the grandparents' generation. Guess I qualify. One sense that this generation differs is that the current generation has been raised on "reality" too much. The dark side of reality. The thugs in the streets of big cities have been glamourized. Daily we are bombarded with the evil side of human nature in sexual deviancy, murders, corruption of all sorts. In the older generations there was more focus on bettering oneself--rising above the "dark side" that we knew existed back then. BUT TRYING TO CHANGE IT. We didn't just accept and embrace it for style. I hear too many young people simply accepting that nothing will ever be better. They take on experiences from Big City, USA, that they see from TV (they've never experienced it themselves) and they think it is "cool" (or whatever the current slang is) to be a "thug". It is so much easier than improving one's lot it life, after all.

  14. Don, you are certainly entitled to your opinions and can write what you want here on your own blog, but you had no real cause to jump all over the travel writer on her own web site with such angry and attacking words. Even some of your criticism about her details is misplaced- if one is coming to Anguilla from Canada, you are never going to fly into SJU and then take Air Anguilla Express - it's much easier to fly into SXM.

    Sure Anguilla has its own set of problems that need to be addressed, but that is not the concern of readers in Canada planning their warm weather vacation this winter. Our Island still offers visitors a great vacation destination, with "crystal clear turquoise waters", people who are generally warm and hospitable, cuisine that is the best in the Caribbean and less poverty and crime than most other Caribbean destinations.

  15. A load of excuses doesn't change the fact that misinforming people and filling them with ignorance is WRONG.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.