Vending on beaches in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be regulated, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and Minister of Tourism Carlos James have announced.
“… we are looking seriously at the issue of beach vending,” James said on radio on Sunday.
“There is nothing on the books that says that we can currently facilitate beach vending. So, for all intents and purposes, everyone who goes to the beach with an icebox, they are vending illegally,” James, who is also a lawyer, said on WE FM on Sunday.
“And there are cases where sometimes at different location, we have more vendors than people using the beach or there are persons who can’t access the beach to have a relaxing afternoon because there are so many beach chairs or vendors who are performing this particular type of service or providing this particular type of service,” James said.
“But, we have to bring the legislation to facilitate it, to regulate it,” he said on “Issue at Hand”, adding that there must be a balance.
“We are not saying we should not allow beach vending, but what we are saying, we should have the right ratio of how we facilitate beach vendors as well as persons using the facilities. All of these things are conversations that we have to have.”
Meanwhile speaking on the same programme, Gonsalves, who is also a lawyer, said that in 1992, the New Democratic Party passed “a very stringent, a very strong set of beach vending regulations”.
Gonsalves, whose government came to office nine years later and has been in office for 22 years since, said the law was never enforced.
“But now, matters are coming to a head because of the direction in which the economy is moving and that is why Carlos is saying, the minister of Tourism, that matter has to be addressed,” the prime minister said.
He said it is not that the government does not want people to vend on beaches “but you can’t have on the beach the kind of untidiness that we have and this free for all that is taking place.
“Because those beaches are a source of wealth for us,” Gonsalves said, adding that the beaches cannot be “enjoyed by a handful of people, important as it is, for their vending.
“And I want to see their vending and I want to see their vending organised and people make good money off the vending but not done in a chaotic manner and which would put the people who are using the beach at real risk,” the prime minister said.
“Similarly, this thing with people taking some big dog by the sea and want to show off that they have a big dog, what you taking a big dog on a small beach for?
“You lying down on a small beach with your family, you want a big dog … over you?”
The prime minister further said some people want to play football on beaches, to the annoyance of other beach users.
“… the point is this, all of those things are requiring where regulations are in place, they have to be enforced and where the regulations need to be amended so that there will be a sense of balance,” Gonsalves said.
He noted that the beach “is not a chapel. It doesn’t mean that you go there to hold Sunday school” and must be a place of enjoyment for everybody
“The state has to play a role in the enforcing of that. And also, when it is being done, it must not be seen as how some people try to do when we try to clean up Kingstown — you try to take away living from people. No. If you have chaos and disorder, we will not develop,” Gonsalves said.