Looking at Dome's Beach from El Faro Park

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Updates, The Season is Almost Over

As the surf season in Rincon winds down and we near our second year in Rincon, we've come to appreciate the seasonal aspect of Rincon as a tourist town and the impact it has on local business.  Many business owners leave town during the summer months and up until November, especially surf-related businesses.  Generally the surf season is November to April, but July is a big month for Puerto Ricans to vacation and Rincon is a big wedding destination, so the early summer months can be worthwhile for local hotels and restaurants, dive shops and other activity providers.

We work with so many tourist related businesses to promote Rincon as a tourist destination, but find ourselves looking forward to the days when the beaches are less crowded.   I can only imagine how the local Puerto Ricans surfers feel about it.  I've heard grumblings in the water and on the beaches before, but the tourism isn't going away and the town of Rincon and its residents, with some exceptions, seem to have embraced the tourist dollars.  I suppose Rincon is similar to the rest of Puerto Rico in that tourism is one of its fastest and only growing industries.

Lately I've been hearing about problems with local businesses on the beach wanting to monopolize the beaches, so that only 1 business could rent surfboards or give surf lessons on a particular beach.  The Department of Natural Resources issues permits for these businesses and is responsible for finding abuses.  If only one surf instructor can operate at Maria's Beach for instance, that is bad for tourism.  Competition fosters better service and more accountability.  I believe in regulating the businesses at the beaches, surf instructors should know CPR for example and food vendors should be responsible for keeping the beaches clean, but the permits issued by the DRNA don't address these issues, they just hand the key to the beach to the person with the most influence or connections. 

Permits should be required for businesses to operate, especially near the beaches where dangerous conditions and environmental concerns need to be addressed.  The process of getting those permits needs to be fair and transparent, the permits themselves should be limited, but should not create monopolies on the beach.  Rincon has many qualified, long-time residents who make their livings from the beach and enough tourists to support them,  it would be a shame to see small-town politics and petty jealousy spoil those tourists' experience.