After tropical storm Earl disrupted their 2010 holiday on Anegada, Italian couple Professor Paola Ciarlantini and Dr. Silvano Scarponi stayed in Tortola for a week, but returned to Italy vowing to come back to the Territory and visit Anegada, an island they had briefly seen in 2003. Silvano is the head physician of three hospitals (Gubbio, Assisi, Citta di Castello) in the Marche Region and one of the top gynaecology surgeons in Italy; Paola holds three PhDs and teaches at the Piccinni Conservatory in Bari, she is also a conductor and composer.
The stories on Anegada’s magic beauty impressed the couple who were determined to see and experience the island during this year’s holiday. They returned to the British Virgin Islands at the end of April and ventured into their nine day visit of lovely Anegada.
At the end of the trip they were so in love with the island that they decided to share their experience with The Island Sun newspaper. Professor Ciarlantini and Dr. Scarponi began their account by saying that “Anegada is a wonderful island! In these times when there are few destinations in the world that are still in truly pristine conditions, it is such a rare find. We can only congratulate the people and Government for keeping the BVI from mass tourism and commend the tourism and hospitality sector for the great service, which was another aspect that impressed us”.
DON’T CHANGE IT EVER: “IT’S MAGIC”
Professor Ciarlantini remarked that Anegada is a perfect eco-tourism destination and praised the people of the Territory for their friendliness. When asked what fascinated her most about Anegada, Professor Ciarlantini said: “It was like the first day after the creation of the word to walk on the beach and just enjoy the tranquillity of the sea, sand and sky.”
Remarking that mass tourism seems to be the order of the day, and that a lot of destinations are following that self-destructive trend, the couple stressed that it was refreshing to stay in Anegada: “Don’t change it ever! We have visited many places and have to say that it’s the most beautiful holiday, we have had. It’s a moral duty of Virgin Islanders to preserve this beauty and special gift from God; so we want to urge the people here — don’t follow mass tourism that would destroy everything. The destination is still affordable to European travellers. Airfare from Europe is high, but it is compensated by the fact that the local hospitality sector is within the price bracket of the middle class and ordinary travellers, not just a luxury for the super rich.”
“We are Italians and people might think it strange that we came all the way here for the sea when we have plenty of it at home. In Italy we live next to a famous beach, but because of its popularity, it is overcrowded, so you will never experience the tranquillity we enjoyed here. This is very interesting. If the big resorts come here it is the end of this special kind of tourism. This mesmerizing environment would be impacted negatively and will lose appeal to visitors,” they added. Mass tourism would attract crowds of low-budget visitors and in due course the tourist industry here will suffer as “quality” tourism will vanish in no time, the impact on the environment will be calamitous, therefore to sum it up in two words: “Paradise Lost!”
The enthusiastic visitors went on to state that people who choose Anegada have to change their attitude: “It’s for special people who are tired of the norm, who want a peaceful relaxing vacation, and therefore don’t need big resorts, and five star mega hotels because that is just overdone, overdeveloped and destructive. We feel honoured and happy to have the opportunity to enjoy nature in its original beauty. I must repeat that Anegada is a privilege, it is for people who deserve it.”
She added that she is confident that local people and people who live here will do what they have to do to avoid the deterioration of their major asset which is nature. She noted that, among many other things, the difference between the BVI and other places relates to tipping issues. She said the tipping culture threw her off when she visited other places.
The Scarponis stay was made more special by the Anegada Reef Hotel where Vivian Wheatley and her staff made their holiday even more pleasant and special: the cuisine, the room, the personal touch, the exquisite kindness and hospitality were magnificent and spontaneous, the couple said.