REAP report -- Our Beaches - Public, Private or Pay to Use?
UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization) Small Islands Voice Project believes the issue
of free public access to the beach and the ocean is one
of the most important issues facing small islands.
the oceans, small islands' push for development often gives
way to private hotel developers and wealthy homeowners suddenly
declaring the beach fronting their property as now private.
This often results in the public being denied the use of once
public beach area and in some cases, being denied even access
to the beach through a simple footpath.
other cases, government entities often feel that they should
take control of and manage public beaches. This often results
in the public, the people, now having to pay a fee to government
whenever they want to go to the beach, be it for a leisurely
stroll, a family picnic, a cool swim or fishing.
Environment Service, in a recent response on this issue sent
to the Cook Islands News states that "government may need to
step in and impose severe restrictions on both locals and tourists/visitors
Cook Island residents pay taxes, be they income or VAT, and
visitors spend money including VAT of 12½ % to government on
all purchases of goods. Additionally there is a $5.00 fee for
environment protection included in the airline departure tax.
Shouldn't some of these monies be used to maintain and protect
our beaches and our lagoons?
we who use the beach also have a responsibility to keep our
beaches clean and litter free and everyone has the responsibility
not to pollute our lagoons.
issue of "Beach Access -- Public or Private? Public or Pay?"
will not go away.
Environment Service says, "it may be time for them to step in
and take control of our beaches."
believes Cook Island beaches belong to the people and that access
and use of the beaches and the ocean should be FREE and remain
open for everyone to enjoy.
do you think? UNESCO, Cook Islands Small Islands Voice and Cook
Islands News would like to know your views.
Island News, 13 January 2003