25 January, 2010


What is an acceptable tourism industry for Anguilla?  Those of us who read the blogs involving visitors’ experiences read some strange things from time to time.  Sometimes, you have to wonder where we are going.  I do not hold any brief for any visitors.  Nor have I been hired by any department of government or tourist service.  That gives me free reign to attack toute munde bagaille.  I propose to do just that in relation to the following recent post on Trip Adviser.  The writer is exuberant about Anguilla.  She enjoyed the experience.  Other than the taxi driver ripping her off, she seems to have enjoyed going through Immigration at Blowing Point on 20 December 2009.  She records the reason for her pleasure in these words:
“Very nice young lady stamped us in, and this always makes us laugh – “Is this your first visit?”  “No, we have been coming since 1981”. - “That was before I was born!” Nice little touch when she also slipped us a little slip of paper with a couple of restaurant recommendations, and a big smile when I told her had several bookings at Picante already”.
You might think the slip of paper with a couple of restaurant recommendations offered to a visitor was a nice little friendly touch on behalf of an Immigration Officer.  However, to me it stinks to high heaven.  To what extent should we permit our Immigration Officers to engage in the marketing of restaurants?  They do not do it for nothing.  They are paid to do so.  This is private enterprise.  The rules that govern the private enterprise of public servants are clear.  They are found at General Orders.  In particular, Rule 3.15 and .16:
3.15 Prior permission to engage in private work must be sought from the Governor.  Full details of private work or any other work  which may create a conflict of interest for which permission is sought, together with particulars of the remuneration offered and of when the work is to be performed, must accompany the application.  Failure to obtain prior approval will render officers liable to disciplinary proceedings.
3.16 For the purpose of this General Order, where public officers possess a direct or indirect interest in a commercial undertaking or are directly or indirectly involved in private work, there shall be deemed to be a conflict of interest if such interest or work clashes with or is incompatible with the official duties.  Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, a conflict of interest includes interest or work which:

(i) impairs or is likely to impair officers’ efficiency;
(ii) brings or likely to bring the government, the public service or the officer into disrepute;
(iii) impinges or is likely to impinge on their official work or responsibility;
(iv) makes them unavailable for reasonable official duties outside normal working hours; and
(v) puts them or gives the appearance of putting them in a position where they are or would be able to use the official position for private gain.”

When I read this “trip report” all that ran through my mind was the question, “Did this Immigration Officer obtain permission before she promoted these two restaurants?”  How much money was she paid?  Or, was it a family member’s restaurant she was promoting, so she did not need payment in cash?  Is this fair to all the other tourism outlets on Anguilla?  What about the much better restaurants that she was not related to?  Should the restaurants of Anguillla that do not pay Immigration Officers to promote them get shafted?
And, finally, what will Stanley do when he reads about this abortion of an Immigration Officer’s performance of her duties?  Cute and desirable as she appears to be, will she be permitted to continue in her polluting of the tourism package of Anguilla
Or, will she, as usual, be spoken to privately, and the whole matter swept under the already very dusty carpet of Anguillian public service corruption?


  1. Slapping wrists saves embarrassment. It also turns us into another Guyana, where this happened not long ago:

    "An official of the Environmental Protection Agency was accused of soliciting a bribe from a private company. The official was dismissed. He should have been charged and put on trial. That act would have established clearly beyond a shadow of a doubt the anti-corruption credentials of the government. Not having done this sends a signal to functionaries across the board that there is a prospect that if you are caught at worst you'll lose your job but there is no real danger of prosecution." --Stabroek News

  2. Handing out some brochures while doing your job is really a rather small crime comared to other stuff we hear about. For example, renting buildings for government at higher than market rates from friends of government officials. This really is taking taxpayer money and giving it to a private person because they are a friend of someone in government. Now I have not verified this in any way, just heard this claim from different sources about different governments and different buildings over the years. Heard one CM planned to have his government rent his own building. Is there any mechanism to check for and stop government officials from sending taxpayer money to their friends like this?

  3. The writer asks if there are mechanisms to prevent government from overpaying rents. Yes. They are called, in well-governed countries, Public Accounts Committees, Freedom of Information Acts, Ombudsmen, etc. Read the report of the Constitutional Review Commission.

  4. TripAdvisor has already pulled that report. Talk about sweeping it under the carpet. TA's practices should be examined. Abysmal use of free labor in the form of user-generated content. Just don't say anything wrong that could get someone in trouble.

  5. The same questions should be asked about the advertisements that went up at the airport arrivals (and departures) area as well as the Blowing Point ferry terminal. All of these ads are for businesses in St. Martin/St. Maarten and the only Anguilla ads are for developments (or proposed developments). There is still an ad for Fairmont there even though they have pulled out of the Conch Bay project and there are scale models of Temenos even though that project has been dead for more than 18 months!

    Do other business owners have the ability to put ads up at the ports? How does one go about doing it? What is the cost of these ads and who does one go to in order to post something? How much money has the GOA taken in from these ads and is there an ongoing fee structure or was it a one-time fee?

  6. What is happening to you? Do you have too much time on your hands?
    I normally think you write really fine stuff but lately it seems like you are starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel. I cannot believe that you just wasted all that typing time on this particular grievance.
    You sure are hard up for some really important things to write about.
    I think it "stinks to high heaven" that you even bothered about this small matter.
    You need to chill.

  7. I too have noticed the private work at the blowing point terminal. coming from sxm is always a tiring ordeal, and while I have noticed the practice, I have not noted the impropriety of same.

    In addition to what you have noted, I would draw your attention to the fact that provision has already been made for the marketing of our tourism products in the arrival section of the ferry terminal. I speak of a brochure outlet/rack that is in place... and I do believe there is also a flat screen plasma television that rotates an official video composed by the Tourist Board of Anguilla detailing things to do while in Anguilla.

    With this in mind, it only makes your observation even more flagrant as the issue of favoritism is much more blatant. ... See More

    We all travel... and when I go overseas and I peruse of a travel guide composed by the official tourism authority, the message that is clear is that "It is our assessment that it is safe to go to the places listed in this pamphlet or book." I say this to make the following point: the issuance of material NOT approved by the Tourist Board by an immigration officer (a member of the civil service) CAN certainly give the appearance of "it is safe to go here" when in fact it may not be.

    Also, while you expressly drew reference to the referral of Picante, it is not my purpose to say that Picante is a dangerous place. My purpose rather, is to question what else is being circulated? Or better yet, what else is being circulated that may be deemed inappropriate? concert fliers for example.

    I also wish to make a distinction between the situation as described and a situation in which a visitor ENGAGES an Immigration Officer's opinion about places to eat or things to do in Anguilla. Some visitors prefer the local experience as opposed to the experience advertised for them. I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing for an immigration officer to offer up suggestions WHEN engaged by a visitor. Although, I think the professional route would be to direct the visitor to the official Tourist Board info. pamphlets provided in the arrival lounge... It is not a bad thing if a visitor asks an immigration officer "where do you like to eat?" In that sense the advice solicited is personal and is less likely to be deemed as advice given in pursuance of the official duties of a civil servant. (this is distinctly different situation from the one described where an immigration officer has taken it upon him/herself to distribute material... I suspect that there could be legal implications that could be avoided... but then again, the immigration officer could also be seen to be on a frolic of his/her own? The regulation you posted seems to want to remedy/prevent this type of situation. no?)

    The unadorned truth is that these situations will always occur, I think that in an effort to alleviate the appearance of bias, after rendering an opinion WHEN ENGAGED, an immigration officer should nevertheless refer the inquisitive visitor to the official pamphlets provided.

    I trust that you follow my logic?

    Like you, I also suspect that this will be taken very lightly and shoved under a carpet. I don't think people sweep anymore - takes too much time.

  8. Anonymous said, "TripAdvisor has already pulled that report. Talk about sweeping it under the carpet. TA's practices should be examined."

    This is what's being called in Anguilla a Hubertism: using part of the truth to arrive at a false and misleading conclusion. Yes, the report was pulled by TripAdvisor, but they did so not to censor controversy but at the request of the original author, as they clearly state.

    TripAdvisor's Anguilla Forum has carried many discussions of considerable controversy. I've been following them for several years and I don't remember even one that was removed before now. Actully, they are excellent compared to the Anguilla Guide Forum, whose owner banned at least three visitors for discussing the fact that Anguilla is not crime-free. The owner, who knows better, wants to portray Anguillians as stupidly servile happy oafs who live in paradise where "never is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day." We are so overjoyed that foreigners visit us that love is everywhere, and we live on clouds where angels play harps, sickness is unknown and a benificent ruler watches godlike over us all, concerned only with our welfare and happiness.

    It is a disgusting display of greedy, racist commercialism that makes me ashamed of a small number of my fellow white people.


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