My name is Ineke and I’m a 2nd year Master student Landscape architecture. For my final thesis I’m going to Sint Eustatius for a month to contribute to the development of a Master plan for sustainable tourism on the island. A thesis for landscape architecture is a bit different from theses in other studies. We have to do a research and make a design for a specific area. I was already working on my thesis for some time when my supervisor came up with the idea to do my case study in Sint Eustatius. My first thought was: ‘where’? Sint Eustatius, or ‘Statia’ as it is called by the inhabitants is a very small island in the Caribbean, about the size of Vlieland. In 2010 it became a Dutch municipality and since then a lot of research and projects have been started up there.

An overarching project that is currently up and running is the TripleP@Sea project. Different research institutes, among others Wageningen University, work together here to explore changes of ecosystem services that the Caribbean seas have to offer. Statia is one of these Caribbean islands. One of the core qualities of Statia is the beautiful nature, under water as well as above. Furthermore Statia is still quite unspoiled by mass tourism, as opposed to for example Sint Maarten. However, the incredible nature offers great opportunities for touristic developments. Within the context of the TripleP@Sea project, Wageningen University and Alterra are working on a Masterplan for sustainable tourism on the island.

Multiple students work on parts of this Master plan. I’m going to make a design for a coastal strip at the bottom of the cliffs of Oranjestad, the main (and only) city of the island. This is a strip of about a kilometre in length with a small harbour and the only beach at the island where swimming is possible. It is therefore a place where many touristic developments are desired, but on the other hand, it is a very small and fragile area that needs to be handled with care. I am going to look at the possibilities for touristic developments and combination with other issues or wishes that might be present here and make a design for this area that can be part of the Master plan for sustainable tourism.

Whilst I’m in Statia I’m planning to do an extensive field study and get a good overview of the entire island and its potentials. Of course, I’m also planning to enjoy the Caribbean life. I want to get my diving license and enjoy the weather. I’m curious about the social life on the island since it is so small and has only 3500 inhabitants. Some people call Wageningen a cosy village, but I think in this place really everybody knows each other. I will be staying at the CNSI, Carribean National Science Institutes, with other students and I’m looking forward to meet new interesting people and exchange experiences.

Since I’m only here a month I will give updates of my trip regularly. So, until next time!