Caribbean Stories From Inside The Reef

Which Direction?

For the past 30 years, Provo has stood out among other Caribbean island tourist destinations as a uniquely compelling luxury experience. Mesmerizing turquoise water, miles of stunning white sand beaches, and a low-key vibe all invited unhurried tranquility and relaxation with breathtaking splendor. But the approved construction of several new resorts, including another 12 story high-rise overlooking Grace Bay, will inevitably put extreme pressure on the infrastructure. And that in turn could change Provo special appeal.

As a longtime student of the Caribbean over the last 50 years, I have witnessed development at its attractive best and disappointingly mundane. I have seen island destinations that dazzle and engage the senses, like Turks & Caicos, and those that were lured into the fateful decision to embrace mass tourism with the hopeful promise of economic gain with all its attendant costs.

Not surprisingly, most of the destinations that have managed to hold on to their high-end magic are also the ones without big airports and thus harder to bring in big jet loads of visitors. These include the British Virgin Islands, Bequia (St. Vincent & The Grenadines), and St. Barth’s. They have continued to do extremely well. But even a few with jet airports with flights from Miami have managed to avoid unbridled development. These would include, so far, San Salvador (Bahamas) and Anguilla. Where is Provo in this mix?

The irony is that for decades Provo uniquely managed to attract high-end tourists from the US, Canada, and now the UK with direct flights while still managing to preserve that low-key, uncrowded vibe along with the splendor. So, it really didn’t have much competition. But that specialness may be sorely tested if Provo continues to lean in the direction of mass tourist destinations like St. Maarten, Aruba, Nassau, St. Thomas, and Cayman–all of which also have beautiful ocean and splendid beaches–even as they became crowded and congested.

Does Provo really want to become like those islands that process many times more visitors and have essentially turned tourism into a commodity? Or does this island remain a destination that nurtures the soul like no other while still drawing in healthy tourist dollars? If yes to the latter, the time to change course is now.


  1. Mary-Win OBrien

    My concern is about the opposite situation from Provo which is what seems to be occurring on Grand Turk. In particular the underwater park seems to lack a constituency for its protection. Having been a diver there for many years there is a noticeable decline which I have focused primarily on the loss of the queen conch population in the park. I would appreciate your thoughts about this island. I tried to use the contact section of your website but nothing seemed to go through.

    • Ben Stubenberg

      Hi Mary-Win,
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting on the article!
      I do not have any plans to do an article on Grand Turk, as I am not as familiar with the situation there. G
      However, I am glad that you are expressing your concerns about that island, as you clearly know the place.
      I would just keep reaching out to DECR and Reef Fund. They are the main entities dealing with ocean health around TCI.
      I’ll send you some more a little later.
      Very Best,

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