Thursday, June 20, 2024

Editorial: Making the best out of slow season

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Every year the inevitable “slow season” descends on San Pedro like an unexpected storm. Why it is that we are not more prepared for this more than predictable time of year is a mystery to me…perhaps we are hoping that if we pretend it doesn’t exist it won’t happen? Regardless of what form of denial we are in, the truth of the matter is that the lean months of September,October and November are here with a vengeance.

Traditionally many resorts and restaurants on the island close during this time for at least a month. Most of the employees are laid off and the staff runs at a bare minimum, often busying themselves with renovations and projects slated for the time when no guests are around. Obviously these establishments have anticipated this season far in advance and have budgeted for the expenses that will incur when undergoing renovations and payroll to do so. To me this is making the best of a less than ideal situation, slow time allows businesses to prepare for high season while at least keeping some people employed.

Regrettably there are many who are not so fortunate and family bread-winners find themselves jobless for months at a time. It can be a desperate situation, with little or no other work opportunities available on the island. People listlessly take to the streets in the heat of the day, congregating with their fellow-unemployed under any shade available to complain and commiserate about their less than promising employment opportunities. One does not have to be a social anthropologist to know that with unemployment comes a rise in theft-based crimes. Be it an act of desperation or reckless boredom, some individuals will find a way to make trouble not only for themselves, but the community as well.

Last week we reported on a group of unemployed people who are asking the San Pedro Town Council for help. Although some argue that it is the responsibility of Central Government to establish job programs, there is no reason why the Town Council cannot help locally. Perhaps the Council should take some management pointers from some of the more successful local resorts? Why not “budget” for slow season, but instead of laying people off why not take advantage of the available workers at this time to do our own town renovations in preparation for the high season? There are plenty of projects that need to be done, like cleaning lots, painting public buildings, tearing down deserted properties that are not only an eyesore but dangerous, landscaping, the list is endless. To be fair the Council could rotate employment opportunities based on specific projects or only offer part-time hours in order to employ more. Any sort of income is better than none.

The benefits would be long reaching. Not only would the unemployed be able to earn some sort of income during this time but it would hopefully keep them busy enough that some would not look for trouble. Therefore neighborhoods stay safe and police are not taxed with petty crimes. The many projects in the town could be completed and we would be polished and sparkling for the new tourism season. Those who worked at cleaning up the town would also have a sense of pride in their work and would most likely refrain from littering while encouraging others to do their part in keeping the town clean. The budget would not have to be much; even $10,000 a month for three months would go a long way in town renovations while providing some employment. The bottom line is we have people who want to work, who need to work, and as a town, we have work that needs to be done. Next year let us budget for a RENOVATION season instead of a slow season, and show off our Isla Bonita with shining pride when we welcome the next tourism season!

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