In Florida, a never-ending fight for the survival of the beaches

«Miami, more than the beach [plus qu’une plage] ! » Dan Gelber, the Democratic mayor of Miami Beach, likes to quote the slogan, though he is careful to add “but first we are a beach”. Besides, in his extensive office, in addition to the photo of President Kennedy, the width of the beach, the beaches we must say, in his municipality is shown on a large scale.

What to post this does not show is that this major asset of the region is threatened, and that, on the coast, the trouble of earthmoving machinery, in re-silt, rubs shoulders with summer laziness. some tourists. Because they are important to the local economy. Miami remains a guaranteed souvenir photo, beach, sun, palm trees and tall glass buildings reflecting an intense light.

Sunny Isles beach (Florida), in April 2022. The Garcia Mining company provided the sand needed for its backfilling.
Two tourists take advantage of unemployment on Sunday, in Fort Lauderdale (Florida), on April 8, 2022.

Dan Gelber, a dynamic sixty-something, with a tanned face as it should be if one has always lived in the “Sunshine State”, reigns in this “small” town of 90,000 residents, if its larger neighbor, Miami has 461,000. But it mainly faces the wave of tourists. Ten to fifteen million tourists roam its streets, and especially its beaches, every year, making the state the second most popular destination in North America after New York. The ports of Florida rank first in the world for cruise ships, which are close to the Caribbean, and three terminals: Miami, Port Canaveral and Everglades, in total more than twelve million passengers. So Miami Beach lives in the rhythm of tourism, often chaotic, a mixture of kitsch, luxury, ostentation and family stay, raised, among other things, in the huge Disney park in Orlando.

The large expanse of fine sand remains the main target for tourists. “Everyone loves the beach, but we have to ask ourselves what do people do when they leave it at the end of the day”by Dan Gelber again. And to praise the other cards played in his city, such as hosting the Super Bowl final, a major event on the planet of American football, in 2020, or the importance of his basketball team, the Miami Heat, one of the best of the important NBA, the North American basketball league, but also the investment, important he assured, in culture, or even in fashion.

“Dynamic hospitality is essential for our economy”, he insisted. Even if it means blaming the attractiveness of its region on some occasions, such as spring break, this spring weekend when many students choose sunny destinations to let loose. And Miami is a great place. “Young people come here to get drunk, it’s not interesting for us, all the coastal towns hate it”, assured the mayor. Peace, with many retirees of all origins, should remain an asset.

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