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  Yves Bourel has been living in St. Barts for more than 10 years. He is an experienced journalist and has been the editor-in-chief for local newspapers. Currently, he is one of the radio announcers at Radio St. Barth for whom he covers political news and is presenting the local news once or twice a month for St. Barths Online!
  April 19, 2003 - Issue # 34
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   Status soon goes into referendum vote.
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   As summer approaches, so does the referendum which will ask the island's eligible voters whether or not they support the island's push for independence. Surprisingly, though, there has been no real effort on behalf of municipal leaders to provide information to constituents about what the change in status will mean, how it will affect their daily lives, or what the possible trade-off may be. There have been a few conferences in which very general information was provided, but none of the promised specifics have as yet been delivered. Aside from the changes that would administratively transform St. Barth into a collectivity (an island council would replace the currently existing municipal council), the final project will most likely confer greater powers to island officials, among them, island finances, healthcare and its management, zoning and developing, education and environmental protection. In total, over twenty such areas previously governed by the state, the department or the region, will be placed in local hands. The mayor's office has announced its intention to make public an economic and financial dossier that outlines how these powers will be financed.
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   Camping
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   Now a tradition, Easter weekend camping has become de rigueur for many island families, specially teenagers, who enjoy pitching their tents on the local beaches and 'roughing it.' The long holiday weekend is the only time that camping is allowed on the island. Among the favorite camping spots: Colombier, Flamands, Saline, Shell Beach and Cul-de-Sac.
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   End of the season
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   For island tourists, coming to St. Barth after April 15, the official start of low season, is synonymous with bargains that can shave as much as 30% off high season rental rates. For local businesses, the low season is the start of a trek across an economic desert where income and sales can be as scarce as water. The outbreak of the Iraqi war once again showed how interdependent the island's economy is on tourism. Island businesses have generally not suffered as much as was originally feared in February and March. Nevertheless, April figures will probably be down over last year, significant when taking into account that businesses need to meet yearly figures in only six months. Many businesses are up-in-arms against the sub prefect for making the business conditions of a seasonally based industry even more difficult. The last few weeks have been marked by the shutdown, ranging from one to three months, of several of the island's more popular restaurants and discotheques. Ti St-Barth and Le Petit Club have had an abrupt end to their business season, precipitated by complaints lodged against them by annoyed neighbors. Unfortunately, as a result, tourists and locals will have less choice when it comes to going out at night.
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   Radio Saint Barth on the Net
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   Good news if you like your music and news St. Barth style. You can now go on the net and tune in to Radio St. Barth by going to their new website, www.radiostbarth.com.
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  More to come,

  Yves Bourel


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