Soualiga News Today

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Rhoda Arrindell, Nicole Cage Recipients of Award from Book Fair

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Dr. Rhoda Arrindell and Nicole Cage are the winners of the “Presidents Award” from the St. Martin Book Fair 2019.

Arrindell and Cage accepted the award at the Main Book Launch and Closing Ceremony of the festival’s 17th edition, June 8. Corporate citizen Motorworld hosted the event at its glittering Showroom in Cole Bay, said book fair coordinator Shujah Reiph.

“The President’s Award is presented to individuals and institutions whose work is noted for its excellence and for combining literary, cultural, and liberation components in the service of progress, of their people or nation, and of humanity,” said Lasana M. Sekou, projects director at House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP).

Dr. Rhoda Arrindell is a St. Martin educator, leading linguist, and author of Language, Culture, and Identity in St. Martin. The former Humanities Division head at the University of St. Martin (USM) has taught English composition and literature.

Dr. Arrindell co-authored chapters in Agency in the Emergence of Creole Languages (Dr. Nicholas Faraclas, Ed.) and edited Brother Rich ... , Creative Writing in St. Martin. In early June (following hurricane Irma’s destruction) she re-opened her youth sports academy and the multipurpose café, Source of Inspirational Learning (SoIL).

Nicole Cage, from Martinique, is an author, journalist, Spanish teacher, psychotherapist; and founder of the book publisher Cimarrón EdiProd.

Cage is also a recipient of the coveted Casa de las Américas prize for Arc-en-ciel, l’espoir, a children and young adults poetry collection. Her novels and poetry books include L’Espagnole, Palabras de paz por tiempos de Guerra, Dèyé pawol sé lanmou/Par-delà les mots, l’amour–Poèmes bilingue, and Vole avec elle.

The Presidents Award statue (always handcrafted of African wood and this year of Kenyan design), was presented to each awardee by Reiph and Dr. Antonio Carmona Báez, USM president. The audience of some 300 guests included authors from around the world, tourists who timed their vacation to coincide with the annual St. Martin Book Fair, and St. Martin’s people from all walks of life, said Sekou.

Previous winners of what the Daily Herald has called a “prestigious award,” include Kamau Brathwaite (Barbados), Benny Wenda (West Papua), Derek Walcott (St. Lucia), Dr. Quince Duncan (Costa Rica), Sir Roland Richardson (St. Martin), and Edwidge Danticat (USA).

Conscious Lyrics Foundation (CLF) and the Book Fair Committee organized the St. Martin Book Fair, June 6 – 8, 2019, in collaboration with strategic partner St. Maarten Tourist Bureau; University of St. Martin (USM); L.C. Fleming Foundation; Motorworld; SOS Radio; and Nagico. The Presidents Award is named after the presidents of CLF, HNP, and USM.


Rotary Sunset Donates to Jeunesse Soualiga

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) – On Monday, June 10, the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunset presented Ms. Idryssa Gumbs and Christoline Theodore of Jmix and Friends Corporation (JFC) Jeunesse Soualiga with a monetary donation towards the annual prom evening. Ms. Gumbs, who is the event coordinator, approached the club for the sponsorship of their annual event.

During the general meeting of June 10, Ms. Gumbs explained to the membership the tasks of JCF and the goals of the foundation. JFC is a foundation based on the French side of the island, which organizes events for teenagers, such as prom. This year’s prom will be held at the Port de Plaisance on July 26, 2019. The theme for this year’s prom is Wakanda Forever, whereby the students had the majority vote.

Ms. Gumbs explained the challenges faced by the organization, especially after the passing of hurricane Irma and lack of funding from sponsors, hence their approach to Rotary Sunset. As part of Youth Service month, it is within one of Rotary’s core values to enhance and promote the betterment of youth. JFC and its endeavors for youth and youth enhancements fall within the scope of Rotary’s focus, which fueled the decision to grant the sponsorship.

Treasurer Tyrone Yates along with Vice President Ruminni Rogers presented Ms. Gumbs and Ms. Theodore with the donation and wished them much success in their endeavors.


Nature Foundation Organizes 4th Annual Sint Maarten Shark Week Event

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation will organize Sint Maarten Shark Week for the fourth year from the 16th until the 23rd of June. The week-long event will feature numerous activities centered on the conservation of and educating about the importance of sharks. During the event the Foundation will visit local primary schools to teach the students about the importance of sharks, threats to sharks and their remarkable biology.

On the 22nd of June from 1-4 pm a fun and educational event ‘Kids Shark Day’ will be organized for all ages at Buccaneer Beach Bar. Also, during this event shark art will be made from waste together with the WasteFactory. The event also includes a Shark Scavenger Hunt, Shark coloring and claying, a quiz to learn about sharks, shark tattoos, face painting and kids can dress up to be a real hammerhead or great white shark. 

“We are organizing Shark Week again as we noticed that many people on St Maarten still have misperceptions about sharks. Many still believe sharks to be dangerous and that sharks eat people; however, statistics and science show us the opposite; humans have been killing sharks to the brink of extinction. Everyday tons of people swim and dive safely with sharks, sharks are not the killing machines as showed by the media but creatures which are very important for the health of our ocean ecosystem” explained Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern organizer of Sint Maarten Shark Week. 

Globally, human fishing pressure has resulted in at least 100 million sharks being killed annually, primarily for products such as shark fin soup and shark steaks. The cruel act of finning sharks, which sometimes involves cutting the fins off of live sharks, and selling shark products, is pushing sharks to the brink of extinction.

Sharks are not frightening or dangerous but an important contributor to the ecosystem and important to the local community as they attract valuable dive tourism. Research has proven multiple times that sharks keep the coral reefs clean of sick fish and keep the ocean’s ecosystem in balance.

If we do not have sharks, we will lose our coral reef ecosystem and everything which depends on that such as fisheries, dive tourism, beach tourism and the very things which make us a unique island in the Caribbean. During Shark Week, the Nature Foundation will attempt to bring this awareness about sharks to the local community particularly for the children on the island. 

“Besides their great importance to healthy coral reefs, fish stocks and oceans, sharks also have amazing adaptations and a diverse biology. They have roamed in our oceans for more than 400 million years, sharks existed way before dinosaurs, presently many different shark species exist in our oceans. If people think about sharks, they think about a large shark with big teeth, however there are about 550 shark and ray species in our ocean, some even as small as our hand, such as the dwarf lanternshark. We hope the school students will enjoy learning about sharks and many kids will come out to learn about sharks during our event on the 22nd of June” continued Melanie Meijer zu Schlochtern.

Kids Shark Day Poster





STB: Business Community called upon to Participate in Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Awards

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – The Sint Maarten Tourism Bureau (STB) is encouraging the Sint Maarten business community to participate in the Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Awards 2019.

According to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Awards are aimed at identifying and showcasing Sustainable Tourism Good Practices in the Caribbean.

Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunication (TEATT) the Honourable Stuart Johnson, said that integrating sustainability in tourism and hospitality businesses is key to continued growth and expansion.

“In this post-Irma era, we need to do things differently. We have to build back better; one has to have contingency plans in place to counter and recover quickly after a national disaster.

“Sustainability and competitiveness go hand in hand and therefore sustainable consumption and production factors need to be part of operational procedures for public and private sectors.

“I encourage the business sector to participate and profile their sustainable initiatives as we all work together to promote sustainable tourism,” Hon. Minister Stuart Johnson said on Thursday.

The CTO says, the awards recognize individuals, groups, organizations or companies in any of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Member Countries which have developed responsible tourism products or are engaged with implementing initiatives that embrace sustainable tourism concepts and core values. These initiatives should also help to enhance the country's tourism product offerings and advance sustainable and responsible tourism in the Caribbean.

The deadline to submit entries runs up to June 30, 2019. You can use the following link to download the rules and guidelines related to the participation in the contest:

Sint Maarten Tourism Bureau Director May-Ling Chun on Wednesday said this is an opportunity for the business community to participate and showcase their sustainable tourism good practices.

The CTO says that only CTO Allied, Affiliate Members, and Member Countries are eligible to apply. In the case where Allied or Affiliate Members operate outside the Caribbean region, only activities or business operations that take place within the Caribbean are eligible for entry. The CTO member countries appear in the country drop-down list on each application form.


Port and Destination Ready for FCCA PAMAC. Itineraries and Authentic Tours Discussion Points

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten and the destination are ready for the 2019 Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Platinum Associate Membership Advisory Council (PAMAC) meeting that will take place from June 12-15.

As cruise executives and PAMAC Platinum members touch down throughout Tuesday, cruise line executives after their arrival on the island will take time out to be part of a panel discussion in the format of a townhall meeting on Tuesday, from 5.00pm to 7.00pm at the Port St. Maarten Homeporting Pavillion, at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise and Cargo Facilities in Point Blanche.

Tuesday’s townhall meeting is for business owners, managers who are working and entrepreneurs who are considering starting a business in the cruise or land-based tourism field.

Cruise line executives will be available to share a wealth of information about industry developments and how the destination can further capitalize on the cruise sector.

This year’s St. Maarten PAMAC brings together 200 Platinum Members of the FCCA and 20 high-ranking FCCA Member Line cruise executives and top Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), who will be working together in continuing to build and expand the mutually beneficial business relationship that exists between the stakeholders.

“Two discussion points that come to mind that will be on the minds of Platinum Members and cruise line executives during their four-day stay on the island are authentic destination experiences and the U.S. Government’s renewed restrictions on travel to Cuba.

“Local people and local experiences have become the biggest draw for cruise travellers and this we know based on surveys and St. Maarten scored 9.3 out of 10 for cruise passenger destination experience. This is something that we need to continue to build upon. Culture -food, music, dance, arts and crafts - and people are the key selling points and each destination offers something unique where this is concerned. In order for our destination to continue to compete within the region, we need to develop more authentic experiences for our guests.

“The U.S. State Department announced last week that it would no longer permit visits to Cuba via passenger and recreational vessels and this includes cruise ships and yachts. Cruise lines who already had set itineraries will now have to offer passengers alternative ports of call and Caribbean destinations will be vying for this business as the industry looks for solutions.

“We look forward to welcoming cruise line executives and Platinum Members to the island on Tuesday and providing them with some ‘Friendly Island’ hospitality as they explore the destination over the next three-days,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Monday.

The PAMAC conferences give FCCA Executives and destination leaders the opportunity to dialogue directly with each other. While traditional conventions are “fast-paced”, the Platinum events create an atmosphere for closer networking and give the Cruise executives the opportunity to explore the new offerings from the host destinations.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday a number of meetings, receptions (Wednesday and Friday Dutch side, Thursday, French side) will take place along with various tours allowing cruise executives and PAMAC Platinum Members to experience the St. Maarten Recovery during the past 20-months and rediscover the destination.

Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa is the conference hotel where the PAMAC guests will be staying.

The PAMAC event is one of many that the FCCA coordinates for its Platinum Members and Member Lines to stay at the forefront of information about both the industry and destinations while finding ways to maximise the benefits for all.

The FCCA is a not-for-profit trade organisation composed of 19 Member Lines operating over 100 vessels in Floridian, the Caribbean and Latin American waters.


Heineken Regatta invites Sailors and Festival lovers to celebrate its 40th anniversary in March

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) – The organizers of the world-famous St. Maarten Heineken Regatta are excited about heading into its 40th anniversary celebrations and are inviting all sailors, island visitors and music lovers to join them on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten for “Serious Fun” on March 5 – 8, 2020.  

The focus for the anniversary and beyond will be the continued commitment to offer excellent Race Management in every class. Michele Korteweg, Regatta Director explains, “In the past couple of years, the Regatta Race Management has significantly developed, and we have been able to offer exciting and challenging courses for the professional teams, the Corinthian racers and the chartering classes. We have relentlessly collected feedback over the years, and we are proud to be able to further improve our operations based on our competitor’s input.” 

The 2019 Edition saw 115 participating yachts, a significant increase from the previous post-hurricane year and the event’s organizers are keen to grow the number further by inviting sailors and festival lovers from around the world to partake in the 40th Anniversary year from March 5 – 8, 2020.

“Our main goal is to offer exceptionally high-quality racing. We are already making exciting changes to enhance this 4-day event, combining windward and leeward races with distance and coastal racing. We offer something for every type of boat, from the beautiful Maxi’s who graced our shores in great numbers in 2019, to our loyal cruisers who prefer shorter courses and a somewhat later start. It will be a special year as we will add some incredible new features, like a special 40-Mile Anniversary Course, a Caribbean Youth Class, a Kite Foiling Class, and more to come!” adds Korteweg. 

The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta combines world-class racing with amazing concerts in a festival atmosphere, creating the “Serious Fun” for which the event has become famous. “Music is a beautiful way to unite people and we are bringing everyone together for 4 nights of world-renowned concerts, showcasing local, regional and international talent. We invite all music lovers and festival fans to make your way down to the blue waters and the white sand beaches of St. Maarten this March as we take you through a journey of music from the past to the future”. Describes John Leone Onshore Production Director. 

The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Organizers will touch upon the historical significance this event has made on both the Island of St Maarten, and the Marine Industry. Furthermore, it will showcase the future of sailing by highlighting the latest in sailing technology in its Regatta Village. “Technology in the sport of sailing is growing at an exceptional rate, just look at the advances in the America’s Cup. We also see this annually up-close during the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta when the 12 Metre boats race on the same waters as the Volvo 70s. We want to highlight this in our Regatta Village by means of a Performance Park, where the latest in sailing technology will be on display,” concludes Korteweg. 

The St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will open for registration next month, allowing all participants to enter and start preparations for their stay on island. The Regatta Office continues to offer concierge services for those needing assistance with their arrangements.  

The island of St. Maarten and the organizers of the St Maarten Heineken Regatta look forward to welcome you to celebrate his 40th anniversary with some “Serious Fun”!


Sarah: Unfortunate turn of events for the country regarding National Budget

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – President of Parliament Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams issued a press release on Sunday evening recapping the meeting of the House of Parliament of Friday, June 7. “The draft budget for the country St. Maarten was received on November 15, 2018.  This draft was subsequently retracted by the government on March 4, 2019 and a new draft budget was presented.

“As is required before we take any draft ordinance to a public meeting, central committee meetings need to be held. This was done for the draft budget on March 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd and 25th.  In the Central committee meetings, many questions were posed, and answers were given, which answers were also provided by the government in writing in its Report to Parliament.

“The written questions and answers encompass a total of 106 pages, and these were received on May 13th.  The public meeting on the budget started on May 14th with the Minister of Finance, who after a brief presentation, asked for time to be given for him to present an amendment to the budget. 

“These amendments or the so-called amended budget were received on May 28th. The amendments can be grouped together in six major parts according to ministries. The major items in these amendments are under the Minister of Justice, namely the support for the police department on St. Maarten, as well as the cost involved with keeping detainees longer in the Netherlands for the year 2019. 

“These two items come up to a total of 6.6 million guilders. We also have as an amendment, the management cost of the garbage dump; we have the APS pension premium payment which needed to be increased again because of the delay in the implementation of the changes to the pension system.  

“The government also projects some savings, amongst which a cut in the legal and other expert advice; a contribution from the SZV, due to incomplete information supplied. There is also calculated a reduction in the salaries of the members of parliament and these extra costs as well as the savings bring the budget total to 483.833.964 guilders.  

“That is the new amount of the budget for its expenditures as presented to the Parliament in the amended budget.  The capital account of government was also reduced to an amount of 93.542.513 guilders, and it should be noted that the loan ceiling for government however is at 40 million guilders. 

“In addition to that, the budget amendment includes the authorization to the Minister of Finance to execute what needs to be done as far as the loan for the Princess Juliana iInternational Airport is concerned. So, while indeed the amended budget is over 300 pages, so was the budget itself, which was received on March 4th and as mentioned, was debated in several Central committee meetings. It is not an “almost entirely new” budget! 

“To suggest therefore, as was done by the three members of parliament who submitted a letter for postponement, that MPs did not have enough time to peruse, study or comment on the budget, is not factual. If Parliament wants to redesign the budget with total disregard for our financial limitations, for agreements, for laws, for conditions etc. then, yes, not even the three weeks’ postponement requested will be enough. 

“Amendments by members of parliament could have been submitted on the draft budget since the budget was put in schedule for the public debate. For example, if we look in the initial elucidation of the budget that we received from the government, it is mentioned that when the police function book is completed, a budget amendment will be drafted. Now that the police function book is completed, then this budget amendment in my opinion would have to follow. 

“In addition to that, because of the adjustments to the pension system, the budget amount had been reduced to reflect an implementation as of August 2019. Even this is no longer realistic, so this savings in premiums need to be even further reduced. 

Amendments will have to continue to come because managing our finances as a country is dependent on so many factors.  

“MPs might want to amend the budget and that is their full right, but the question is how much room do we actually have for any of this?  Unless we want to throw everything in a tailspin and let the chips fall where they may.  That would be irresponsible! 

We can't increase the expenditures budget randomly without increasing the revenue accounts. There is no shortage of ideas for new revenues, but how realistic are they at this time? For example, we have had many persons speak often about the so-called “sin taxes”, taxes on alcohol and tobacco but these same revenues would require legislation before they can be put in the budget.  

“To come with pie in the sky type of ideas is not going to cut it as far as the 2019 budget is concerned.  Rather than kicking the proverbial can down the road, we should be having a hard discussion on the situation we are in right now financially speaking, with a total reliance on Dutch assistance even though via loans, for our liquidity deficit. For many, including myself this is a hard pill to swallow, but rather than play around it, let's face it for what it is. 

“If we don't want Dutch liquidity assistance, then what?  Subsidized school boards for example are already facing hardships, the outstanding compensation for the police requiring another budget amendment; SZV to pay government because the 10% deductible from civil servants was not done, just to mention a few things that impact or will impact the budget and our liquidity. The budget is late anyhow, some have argued and late it is, but why should we as a responsible Parliament further exacerbate this, when legally next!  year’s budget is due in September. 

“No one mentions the authorization in the budget amendment as presented by the government to make the loan agreement to PJIA possible. Are we saying that too can or must wait? Sale of our UTS shares is no longer a priority either, it seems. Is this a deadline too we are willing to play brinkmanship with?  Is it just a coincidence that the letter for postponing the handling of the budget comes from three of the members of parliament who are scheduled to travel this weekend for Par Latino committee meetings? 

“Will these and other members of parliament be willing to forgo IPKO meetings in the Hague the week thereafter, and deal with the budget of the country? Yes, this is the government’s proposal for a budget for the country and yes the government must understand we are the parliament; we are elected, the ministers are appointed and yes we can amend and change the budget or any other law for that matter but guess what? 

Our political system is such that if Parliament and government can't work together, each within their own sphere, nothing will get done. Let’s think about that while we study the 300+ pages draft budget 2019, In parliament since March 4, 2019,” MP Sarah Wescot-Williams pointed out in her Sunday evening press statement. 


Reminder to Register before 5.00pm on Monday for FCCA PAMAC Cruise Executive Townhall Meeting

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Those interested in starting a business, owners and managers are invited to attend a townhall meeting on Tuesday, June 11 from 5.00pm to 7.00pm at the Port St. Maarten Homeporting Pavillion, at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise and Cargo Facilities in Point Blanche. To register, go to or, click on “Ship Schedule” and click “FCCA PAMAC Townhall. Those interested in attending the townhall must register by Monday, June 10 at 5.00pm.

The townhall meeting is part of the 2019 Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Platinum Associate Membership Advisory Council (PAMAC) meeting that will take place from June 12-15.

PAMAC brings together Platinum Members of the FCCA who meet with high-ranking FCCA Member Line cruise executives and top Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) as part of a relationship and business building process.

Cruise line executives will be attending the townhall meeting and will participate in a panel discussion about relevant destination issues and overall cruise industry developments.

“The townhall meeting is a very important avenue to get an insight into how the destination is perceived by the industry and what opportunities exists to further enhance and strengthen the destination experience for cruise guests.

“Port St. Maarten just celebrated 55-years Cruise. The destination has grown over that time, and we must continue to look at the future as the industry continues to evolve. Register today online,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Sunday as registration for the townhall meeting concludes on Monday at 5.00pm.

The PAMAC event is one of many that the FCCA coordinates for its Platinum Members and Member Lines to stay at the forefront of information about both the industry and destinations while finding ways to maximise the benefits for all.

The FCCA is a not-for-profit trade organisation composed of 19 Member Lines operating over 100 vessels in Floridian, the Caribbean and Latin American waters.

Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa is the conference hotel where the PAMAC guests will be staying.


Johnson: Sint Maarten to host second major conference. Good for the economy

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Next week the destination will be hosting the 4th edition of the Annual Caribbean Aviation Meetup Conference which will take place from June 11-13 at the Simpson Bay Resort & Marina.

The conference will bring together stakeholders in aviation and the tourism industry from 24 countries and territories of North and Central America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean to discuss a number of issues such as “Friendly Skies; Liberalizing Airlift in the Caribbean” to

“Regional Airport Design For A Profit Making Concept”, and from “Re-Energizing Destination Marketing” to “Training And Mentoring To Service A Demanding Clientele” and “U.S. Preclearance”.

Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson said on Friday that he is looking forward to welcoming these industry specialists to the island who will be representing airports, air traffic control centers, destination marketing specialist, airlines and much more.

One of the speakers will be Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Principal Partner of the Bedford Baker Group, a collection of independent professional advisers offering services in Travel, Tourism and Hospitality. He was Minister of Tourism and Aviation of The Bahamas.

Vanderpool-Wallace will be speaking on the topic: “Friendly Skies: Liberalizing Airlift in the Caribbean.”

“Sint Maarten has become the go-to destination for conferences. This is another major event that we are hosting this month after the conclusion on Friday of the 4th Dutch Caribbean Anti-Money Laundering & Gaming Regulation Forum regional-international conference that brought together more than 100 professionals from banking, legal affairs, law enforcement, regulatory bodies etc.

“We welcome the confidence that exists in our destination where the organizers of these events have seen how quickly we have recovered and continue to do so, and they want to be a part of the Sint Maarten success as we continue to rebuild and grow again as a destination.

“These conferences benefit our economy by injecting foreign exchange into the country which has a spin-off for local tourism-hospitality oriented businesses,” Hon. Minister Stuart Johnson said on Friday.

Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace told Cdr. Bud Slabbaert, Chairman/Coordinator of the Caribbean Aviation Meetup: “The conference, besides becoming a “must attend” event for some quite influential people, is also covering a subject that the people of the Caribbean are rapidly beginning to realize is critical to their economic and social well-being.

“There is now a Caribbean wide petition being signed to force governments to address these issues as a matter of urgency and recently the Director of Economics of the Caribbean Development Bank is recommending that governments “Tackle regional air travel as one”.

“We have been saying for decades that the Caribbean is the world most tourism dependent region. But we have failed to act on the simple fact that since most of the economic value of tourism comes from the air traveler, the Caribbean is therefore that region of the world’s most dependent on air transportation.

“I think this Meetup will be seen as a most important turning point for our regional economy.”

Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace was Secretary General & Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CTO, Caribbean Tourism Organization. According to his bio on the CaribAvia website, he is a much sought after speaker and advisor to both private companies and governments in the tourism and hospitality arena

Vincent has been the principal architect of policies to ensure robust public-private sector cooperation in all of his initiatives as a result of bringing a unique perspective to the growth and development of businesses and destinations that rely on hospitality for their profitability and their economies. His tenure covered the best performing years in Bahamas tourism whether measured by total visitors, by hotel visitors, by cruise visitors, by tourism revenues or by levels of visitor satisfaction.

Vanderpool was named one of the 50 most influential people in Caribbean Tourism in the past 50 years, selected by Fast Company magazine as one of the Fast 50 global champions of innovation, selected as Person of the Year for the Caribbean by Travel Agent magazine named as one of the most extraordinary minds in Hospitality & Travel by the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association (HSMAI) and being recognized for Lifetime Achievement by both HSMAI and the Association of Travel Marketing Executives International (ATME). In 2009, he was included in Her Majesty the Queen's Birthday Honours List and awarded a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his contributions to Tourism. More recently, he was selected to serve as a member of the Executive Committee of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA).

Minister Stuart Johnson 2019 MAY

Minister Stuart Johnson




Lifelong prison, 30-year and eight-year sentences for convicted suspects in MARS investigation

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - As requested by the Public Prosecution Office Sint Maarten, the court on Wednesday, June 5th, 2019, sentenced the main suspect in the MARS investigation K.F. to life in “prison for manslaughter and murder, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) said in a statement.

The MARS investigation was started subsequent to a missing person report filed concerning two young men Sarante Diaz and Rosario Contreras. Both victims were last seen alive on December 5th, 2016.

“As the investigation progressed one of the suspects directed detectives to the location where the bodies were dumped. The investigation also revealed that the two victims were killed in a room at the Simpson Bay Resort. The bodies of the two victims were discovered in the Belair lagoon on August 1st, 2017.

“K.F. is currently being detained in a maximum-security prison in The Netherlands, as a result of escaping the Point Blanche Prison on Sint Maarten in 2016. At that time, he was serving a 21-year sentence for a murder he committed in 2005.

“The court held K.F. responsible for the manslaughter of one victim and the murder of the other victim, removal of their bodies and firearm possession. K.F. was also found guilty for escaping the Point Blanche Prison in 2016. The court concluded that K.F. is a danger to society and a life sentence justified the severity of the crimes committed. K.F. remains imprisoned in the Netherlands.

“Co-defender and brother of K.F., T.F. was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the manslaughter and murder, removal of the bodies and firearm possession. In accordance with the Public Prosecution Office, the court found it proven that T.F. was an active accomplice. T.F. was found guilty of the planning and execution, removal of the victims’ bodies and for firearm possession.

“The third suspect K.S. was sentenced to 8 years in prison. Also, in accordance with the Public Prosecution Office, the court found it proven that K.S. was complicit in the manslaughter and murder in the Simpson Bay Resort hotel room and removal of the victims’ bodies.

“The MARS investigation was carried out in close collaboration with the Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM). Both parties are content with the outcome of this investigation, which spun over more than two years. This conviction safeguards the people of Sint Maarten from a dangerous man.”

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