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Prospective Dutch Side "Timeshare Authority" Slammed by Everyone but Politicians

SINT MAARTEN - Two big things appear to be happening almost simultaneously on Sint Maarten regarding timesharing, according to online Publisher Jeff Berger of SXM Weekly News, that serves more than 285,000 subscribers around the world.

“The first is a new timeshare ordinance which we referred to in the past as the first embodiment on SXM of timeshare owner consumer protection. SXM Weekly News has obtained an English-language copy of the ordinance and we're looking at it closely. We'll let you know our opinion of it once we've digested it and compared it to reasonable timeshare owner expectations regarding consumer protection legislation.

“The second is a government Authority to be established to oversee the resolution of complaints from timeshare owners. We have also obtained an English-language version of that ordinance and are taking a close look at it as well.

“However, in talks with a number of people associated with the timeshare industry on the island, and with a few selected timeshare owners, it appears there is nearly unanimous opposition to the establishment of the Authority.

“First, opponents argue that it will raise the cost timeshare owners pay to use their units every year, since the cost of the bureaucracy will be assessed upon timeshare owners. To us, this looks like yet another tax on timeshare owners wearing a remarkably ineffective disguise. That makes it a bad idea -- one that slams the most loyal and productive component of the entire island economy

“Second, many resorts have undergone substantial renovations in recent years and have no complaints whatsoever. Arguably the worst of the lot is Ray Sidhom's Alegria Resort, which attempted to void timeshare owner contracts and throw out timeshare owners upon taking over the bankrupt Caravanserai property. It looks like the "Caravanserai debacle" as we branded it didn't occur to those who drafted this bill.

“There, thousands of timeshare owners had millions of dollars in investments expropriated by owner Ray Sidhom. Timeshare owners howled loudly upon deaf government ears. With that glaring exception and Sapphire Beach Resort, which is getting back in the good graces of its timeshare owners, there are precious few complaints.

“It strikes most opponents that there are far better ways of adjudicating complaints than establishing an expensive bureaucracy which could conceivably cost timeshare owners another $200 per week per year, a fee which once again could mortally damage the timeshare sector of the St. Maarten economy which already is incredibly fragile. “Worse, if that's possible, is that this $200 weekly can then not be spent for meals, jewelry, etc., on SXM -- a huge hit where businesses are already reeling (more on that is coming in future weeks).

“We are still examining this and we'll have more comments soon, but our initial reaction is that this is a huge overreach which will seriously damage St. Maarten's economy. We think, as do others, that there are much better, simpler, far less expensive solutions, and as we get more deeply into this we'll likely be talking about them right here and calling for your help in making your feelings known about this proposed Authority,” Online Publisher Jeff Berger concludes in his most recent weekly newsletter.

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Central Bank President Tromp and Attorney respond to Media Reports about National Security Screening

PHILIPSBURG - On March 22, 2017, the Minister of Finance Richard Gibson Sr. Gibson, esq. of Sint Maarten announced in a media conference that Dr. Emsley Tromp, President of the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten, did not pass the screening of the Security Service of Sint Maarten (‘VDSM’), a press release from Attorney J. Bloem stated on Sunday.

“Consequently, the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten decided not to grant  Dr. Tromp a so-called “declaration of no objection.”

“In reaction thereto it should first and foremost be noted that diligence is not served with media publications about a decision against which opposition and appeal can be filed, with an independent adjudicating/reviewing body.

“Especially, because such publications cause further damage to the good name and reputation of Emsley Tromp. Emsley Tromp will therefore, in reacting to the announcement in question, limit himself to the following statement:

“I cannot find myself in the decision of the Minister, taken upon advice of VDSM. The screening process should, certainly with regard to persons who has exercised so-called Trust Functions for a long while within our society, be premised on verified or in any case verifiable facts.

“Facts can in any case never, as has happened in this case, give way to insinuations and/or baseless accusations. The Minister wrongfully and unjustly gave too much credence to the situation that a criminal investigation is ongoing against my person, which investigation is by the way enduring undesirably long. I emphatically contest and deny the suspicions of the Public Prosecutors Office and will defend myself against that in Court.

“Effective immediately, an appeal will be filed against the decision of the Prime Minister of Sint Maarten.”

Emsley Tromp will elucidate further on his position, in court.

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Two 22-Year Old Men Drown at Mullet Bay Beach on Saturday. Bodies recovered on Sunday

MULLET BAY - On Saturday March 25th at approximately 4.00 p.m. two men who went swimming at Mullet Bay beach was reported missing. The seas were quite rough and according to witnesses one of the men was calling for help while swimming.

The other had gone to help and shortly after they disappeared under the water. They were not seen since and are suspected to have drowned.  The Coast Guard carried out an intensive search until late in the evening hours but, to try to locate the victims to no avail.

Family members of the victims were informed of the situation. The missing persons were identified as Samuel Blaise (22) and Jeef Stephane (22).

On Sunday March 26th at approximately 1.30 p.m. while the Coast Guard continued the search for the missing persons a sea bather encountered the bodies of the victims. The Coast Guard was immediately informed and went on to remove the bodies from the water.

The bodies were taken to the Coast Guard Building in Simpson bay where Dr. Mercuur pronounced the death of the victims and stated that the cause of death was drowning.  Detectives and Forensic Department were also on the scene. (Police Force Sint Maarten)

Police photo of second victim.

vermiste pers. 3 2

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World Salt Week concludes on Sunday. Salt: The Forgotten Killer

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), has been celebrating the 18th National Salt Awareness Week which started on March 20 and concludes this Sunday, March 26.

The theme is: ‘Salt: The Forgotten Killer.’

The objective of the awareness week is to remind people that salt raises blood pressure, leading to strokes and heart attacks, and that by simply eating less can lower the chances of dying prematurely.

Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, said on Friday that it supports the efforts by the Salt Smart Workshop on Designing a Social Marketing Campaign for the Caribbean.

The goal of developing a social marketing campaign that could be used throughout the Caribbean to reduce the amount of salt added to food during cooking and food preparation, as well as to raise awareness.

The groups came up with messaged designed to break through the clutter of health information to create a memorable impact on the attitudes of people throughout the region.

The social marketing campaigns target mothers of young children living in the Caribbean and focus on simplicity, low-cost distribution, convenience for mothers, and changing the social norms surrounding salt.

The final outcomes included having the participants develop campaigns pitches that will be used to seek funding for the projects and as well as plans for how to disseminate the messages through in-country channels.

The workshop was put together by Dr. Branka Legetic, Regional Advisor on non-communicable diseases, Dr. Ruben Grajeda, Regional Advisor on Nutrition, and Robin Mowson, Consultant in NMH.

The workshop held early March was designed and moderated by Bill Smith, Social Marketing Consultant. Participants included multisector professionals from governments, Non-Governmental Organizations, private sector and professional organizations based in the Caribbean, making this a unique workshop that incorporated all membership components of the Salt Smart Consortium.

The words “salt” and “sodium” are often used interchangeably, but they do not mean the same thing. Salt (also known by its chemical name, sodium chloride) is a crystal-like compound that is abundant in nature and is used to flavor and preserve food. Sodium is a mineral, and one of the chemical elements found in salt. Table salt is approximately 40 percent sodium.

Reducing dietary salt is recommended by the recent United Nations Summit to prevent non communicable diseases (NCDs) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to improve population health.

Excess dietary salt increases blood pressure causing approximately 30% of hypertension and is a probable pro carcinogen for gastric cancer and is also associated with kidney stones and osteoporosis.

Where assessed, the salt consumption is more than 5/g day, maximum quantity recommended by WHO. African descent people are particularly susceptible to the adverse blood pressure effects of excess salt.

High levels of blood pressure is a contributory factor in at least 40% of all heart disease and stroke which represent 45 % of NCDs.

Hypertension is a major health risk in the Americas where between 20-35% of the adult population has elevated blood pressure.

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Coast guard apprehends 17 illegals

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - The Dutch Caribbean Coastguard (Kwcarib) in collaboration with the Curacao Police Force (KPC), on Thursday apprehended 17 persons who were traveling on a vessel attempting to enter the country illegally.

Around 21.30 hours, the radar operator of the rescue and coordination center of the Coast Guard detected a suspicious contact on the radar south of the island of Curacao.

The Coast Guard Cutter Jaguar which was at that moment on patrol was directed to go to the designated area where the contact was seen on radar. Between the Spaanse Water and Fuikbaai, the cutter crew came across an unlit Eduardoño type vessel type filled with passengers.

The Eduardono type vessel was escorted to the support base Parera. After further investigation, 17 persons were identified on-board the vessel, one (1) woman and sixteen (16) men who were attempting illegally to enter Curacao. All of them carried the Venezuelan nationality.

The vessel was seized and the passengers were transferred to the Curacao Police Force who together with the Coast Guard will continue with their investigation. 

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Lee on Landfill Fires: I understand your outrage and frustration

POND ISLAND - “I understand and share the community’s outrage and frustration with the frequent fires at the dump. Clearly the situation is unacceptable and negatively affecting our children, our elderly, and the entire population of St. Maarten.

“Based on conversations with Minister Christophe Emmanuel, I believe that he and his Department are working diligently to provide a definitive and structural interim and long-term solution to waste management.

“The continuous burning of the Dump is a serious public health hazard, is concern for the community and the entire Council of Ministers”, stated Minister of Public Health Emil Lee on Friday in a press statement from his Cabinet.

The Department of Collective Prevention Services has made contact with the Pan American Health Organization for technical support on finalizing the short-term and long-term solution.

The request for support from PAHO is threefold: 1) The immediate request is to advise on specific details to be included in a new terms of reference for a Landfill Manager, to guarantee adequate management, taking the Public Health into perspective and not only the management of the physical situation of a landfill; 2) The intermediate request is for PAHO to support Sint Maarten to initiate a dialogue on Integrated Waste Management that can contribute to proper waste management on Sint Maarten on the long term; 3) Since it is the responsibility of government to give guidelines and set the standards, to advise on equipment needed to measure water, air quality and chemicals at a landfill and to advise on quality standards and values. A virtual meeting with PAHO, Minister VSA (Public Health, Social Development and Labour), and Minister of VROMI (Public Housing, Environment, Infrastructure Management) is scheduled to take place on Wednesday March 29th.

It is not the intention of the Ministry of Public Health to become too closely involved in operational aspects of the landfill management as the Ministry of VROMI is the controlling agency.

Ministry of VSA is in regular communication with VROMI, and will provide support to ensure that all health concerns are integrated in the future plans.

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TelEm Group extends 50th and 40th Anniversary wishes to SVOBE schools

POND ISLAND - TelEm Group is extending heartfelt congratulations to SVOBE Schools, MPC and Sundial for attaining a milestone in the education of St. Maarten youths, many of whom have grown into prominent members of their community.

Alumini of both schools will be amongst those marking 50th and 40th Anniversaries respectively, during a $100 per plate fundraising dinner at the Westin, Dawn Beach Resort, this Saturday.

Joining them will some of TelEm Group’s own employees who have excelled from the education they have also received from these schools.

Among the company’s distinguished Alumini of MPC is recently named Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Kendall Dupersoy and the company’s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Mr. Brian Mingo.

Mr. Dupersoy said both schools have contributed much over the years towards the education of young St. Maarteners and both deserve to be recognized upon reaching such important milestones.

“Many of us continue to be grateful for the fine education we received at MPC and Sundial despite a lack of resources in many areas, but the proof of the sound groundwork that was laid is there to see.  Many former students of both schools are holding top positions in the public and private sector of St. Maarten,” said Mr. Dupersoy.

The CEO on Thursday wished the SVOBE Schools management team much success with a host of celebratory activities they have planned for the year, including Saturday’s fundraising dinner.

He said a generous donation from TelEm Group, some of which will go toward the hosting of Saturday’s event should set the tone for a fun and rewarding night that is sure to feature a reunion and gathering of past and present students and teachers as well as friends and families associated with both schools.

The SVOBE management team has meantime thanked TelEm Group for its donation and kind words.

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Young professional candidate Alex Pierre on Team Gibbs

MARIGOT, St. Martin - The voters of French Saint Martin will be going to the polls for a second round to elect a new government on Sunday, March 26, 2017.

Team Gibbs is a full list of candidates representing a cross-section of the community which is headed by its leader Daniel Gibbs. One of those candidates is Alex Pierre who holds on the number 11 position on the slate.

Alex is no stranger to the community having worked in area of sports, community service and culture. Presently Mr. Pierre works in the banking industry.

"I am counting on the support of the community as my candidacy speaks of inclusion as part of Team Gibbs," Pierre said.

"I've seen first-hand the struggles and realities of our community and I am prepared to get those concerns addressed," Pierre added.

Daniel Gibbs leader of Team Gibbs 2017 said, "I am proud of Alex and his volunteerism is the core of compassion needed in government to work for all of the people."

One of Pierre's core character values can be summed by the Methodist faith: “Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can.”

Team Gibbs will be having its final campaign meeting on Friday in Marigot.

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Welcome Baby Project Launched with SMMC and Rotary Mid Isle Club

CAY HILL - On Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 nurses of the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) collaborated with Rotarians of the Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle to officially launch the baby bags in their “Welcome Baby” project.

The launch included a presentation by Rotarian Denise Antrobus, Rotarian Anjali Manek, and Nurse St. Cyr of the OB/GYN ward, who started the “Welcome Baby” initiative to support new mothers in need, as part of her objectives for this year.

The presentation informed the invited guests about the project in detail, and also allowed both organizations to present a “Welcome Baby” bag to the first official new mom in the project.

This particular bag that the new mom received, was sponsored by Mid Isle President Veronica Jansen-Webster, Domino’s Pizza, Bebe n’ Kids, Penny’s Department Store and Divico.

A District Grant was received through ‘The Rotary Foundation’, which is the charitable arm of Rotary International, to offset the start-up costs of this project. Through this grant and the valued contributions by the generous sponsors mentioned the additional “Welcome Baby” bags are made possible. The bags are filled with the all the essentials a new mom will need for the new bundle of joy.

Projects like these highlight amazing ways the public can collaborate with our local hospital to support the community. “Welcome Baby” represents a way of giving back to the community for both organizations.

For Nurse St. Cyr the objective was to promote the well-being of patients and through this joint effort she hopes to be able to offer positive experiences to the new moms. However, the bags will not be available to every mother.

The baby bags are intended for those who need it the most. The chosen new mothers will receive a bag at the discretion of the nurses who work closely with them, and who have gotten to understand their individual stories.

The “Welcome Baby” project is still in its initial stages, and the hope is for other’s within the community to join in the great effort of the concerning organizations.

For the Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle being part of the official launch was an ideal opening to their theme for the month of April, which will be ‘Maternal and Child’ month for the club. The Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle meets Tuesday at 7pm at Mary’s Boone in Simpson Bay. For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our face book page Rotary Club of St. Maarten-Mid Isle.

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SINT MAARTEN BECOMES #2 CARIBBEAN, #19 WORLDWIDE DESTINATION

PHILIPSBURG - This Tuesday, TripAdvisor has congratulated Sint Maarten / Saint Martin on a achieving the #2 position as a Caribbean destination, and #19th worldwide. According to the company, the sharp increase was the result of a shared Sint Maarten Tourist Board and Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) campaign starting in 2016.

Both parties were contacted by TripAdvisor to share the excellent results. TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice (TC) Awards are based on millions of personal reviews from the world’s most popular travel community. The awards recognize exceptional properties and destinations. Winning the award is achieved by a combination of popularity, comments by visitors and overall ranking on TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor is the largest peer-to-peer travel site in the world allowing travelers to comment about their experiences and recommendations.

In 2016, the Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) launched a public-private partnership with the Sint Maarten Tourist Board last year to boost social media traffic for the island.  The awards were granted based on increasing traffic coming from the island, reinforced by further combined efforts with Expedia, USA Today.  SHTA is grateful for the close cooperation with the Tourist Board and hopes to be able to continue this Sint Maarten social media team for years to come.

Winning the award increases a destination’s visibility within media. The TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards receive large press coverage across respected news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC News, USA Today, The Huffington Post and many others. Just in the US, TripAdvisor was cited in 6100 news articles over the past year.

However very happy that destination Sint Maarten now ranks this high globally, SHTA stresses the importance that 21st century online marketing only keeps flourishing by continuous effort. High rankings have been the result of both the Sint Maarten Tourist Board as well as SHTA fully engaging in the digital marketing effort. To keep Sint Maarten having high rankings, it is very important to keep the effort continued at the same pace and invest in 21st communications.

The SHTA, the largest business representative on the island, is dedicated to bring quality to all aspects of life on St. Maarten by promoting sustainable economic development for its members in cooperation with the social partners and the creation of a fair marketplace. For more information, please contact the SHTA office: 542-0108, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website www.shta.com

sxm tripadvisor hotels inside

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