TRAVEL PICTURES: Best & Worst Destinations Rated, 2009

Best and Worst of the 2009 Traveler Places Rated Scorecard
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WORST RATED DESTINATIONS

42nd Place: St. Maarten/St.Martin


Run by both the French and Dutch governments, this Caribbean island has a split personality--and neither half is particularly winning, the independent panelists say.

The Dutch side is "a typical mass-market tourism disaster," jammed with cruise passengers, casinos, fast-food joints, and high-rises, panelists said. And the emphasis on tourism at all costs may be more than just annoying. The Dutch administration's failure to protect natural resources is "provoking damages, many irreversible," one expert commented.

Despite "too many hotel rooms and overcrowded beaches," French St. Martin gets a slightly sunnier evaluation, given its largely intact "social and cultural integrity" and its better protection of the natural environment, according to the panel. But experts warn that it "needs to protect what it has."
— Photograph by Luynne Sladky/AP
 
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