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There is an increasingly obvious disparity within the retail community of Anguilla. As in many other tourism oriented economies (Cape Cod, Massachusetts, comes quickly to mind) the retail sector has developed in a manner whereby the tourist's holiday desires are easily satisfied, but the requirements of the Island's residents are either not available, or available without sufficient selection.

Due to the fact that Anguilla's tourism is geared to the well heeled and the upmarket, this disparity between the "fun" and the "fundamental" is not as glaringly obvious as would be the case in, for example, a cruise ship environment. However, the fact remains that Anguilla's strongest retail sector is the restaurant niche, and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with a proliferation of expensive, attractive, elegant restaurants, a development policy which recognizes the need to encourage a more diversified entrepreneurial retail sector is essential to Anguilla's well being.

Hotel development has been crucial in the economic growth of Anguilla. However one must attempt to identify the point at which the benefits of such capital intensive, high density, development begins to diminish. Resort development has undeniably created an impressive number of service sector jobs, and has fostered substantial growth in privately --locally--owned businesses. However, when analyzing the "law of diminishing returns" of future development, one pertinent guide must be the impact of that new development with regard to increasing the variety and scope of Anguilla's entrepreneurial retail activity.

Service sector jobs should not be condemned--they shall always fill an important economic role, as witnessed by the growth of the service sector industry within the United States itself. However, independence and self reliance (both politically and economically) are the true foundations of Anguilla's identity and character--the true foundations of its success. As such, a development policy which encourages expatriate residential home or condominium ownership--as opposed to encouraging additional resort or holiday development--should be adopted. Such an emphasis would have many benefits (i.e. decentralization of land sales, protection of beach land, etc), but such an emphasis should become policy if for no other reason than to assist in fostering the growth and diversity of Anguilla's retail activity--small, locally owned, locally conceived, and locally managed, businesses. Anguilla has the necessary talent, it simply lacks the proper critical mass.

Hotel guests do not buy furniture or professional clothes, do not buy house plants or television sets, do not get watches repaired or appliances serviced, do not go to music recitals or attend cultural events--resident home owners would. A development policy that focuses on increasing the demand for such goods, services, and events, would benefit all residents--belonger and expatriate alike--economically, socially, and intellectually.

On a small Island of finite population, the best way to create the critical mass necessary to support the entrepreneurial growth of such business is to encourage expatriate residential ownership. The expatriate owner of an Anguillian property will inevitably require the diversity of retail options that those of us who live here currently travel to St. Maarten or Puerto Rico to find.

The expatriate resident, as opposed to the tourist, will want--and will help support--diversity, selection, and variety, within Anguilla's retail sector. Once you live here you quickly realize that there is no sustenance in eating out, night after night, in yet another elegant restaurant.


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