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NIACA Festival set for October 10 to Showcase Traditional Cultural Heritage

GREAT BAY - The NIACA Festival is a platform to celebrate the St. Maarten Story as told by the people who live and work here as artist. The showcase celebrates both our traditional cultural heritage, as well as the contemporary works created by the artist of now.

The National Institute of Art (NIA) has selected October 10th for the NIACA Festival, as we feel that the transition to Country Status is the appropriate occasion to celebrate all things St. Maarten. Our past, our present, and visions of our future. 

In addition, we at NIA see this as a time to honor the creative works of those who have paved the way so that NIA could be here today.

The highlight of the evening will be an Award ceremony honoring St. Maarten artist of 3 generations. 

  1. The Griot Award we bestow on The Seniors /The Older-Heads The pioneers who have paved so that we may do what we do today.
  1. The Vanguard Award. This is the generation that has forged on, creating works in a myriad of genres. They are   the contemporary generation. Artists of now that are doing creative expressive works in all discipline.
  2. The Young Emerging Artist Award speaks for it self. These are the artists of the future. Those now embarking on their artistic path.

The National Institute of Arts recognizes that Arts and Culture play vital roles in celebrating the story of our humanity. The artist that we honor are a treasure throve of information and have created a library of work that helps tell Sweet S’Maatin Story.

These artists have devoted themselves to living an exemplary life as an Artist, despite of all the obstacles faced in the process of creating and developing their art here on this island.

Through their hard work, perseverance, dedication, and commitment to excellence,

St. Maarten/St. Martin now has tangible works, which celebrates all “Our-Story”.

NIA knows that the Sweet S’Maatin Story lives in the body of our artists, poets, dancers, cultural workers, storytellers and others engaged in Culture & Arts. The Griots of our Island are a true testament and example of Artistry embodied.

NIACA Festival 2014 Awardees were as follows:

Griot Awards: Harold Jack, Cynric Griffith, Evelyn Roberts Ann Meyers

Vanguard Awards:  Musician and Band leader Jules Carty   & Dancer, Cynthia Roberts

Emerging Artist Award: Visual Artist and Fashion Designer Akeem Adams & Vocalist Chantal Richardson

The NIACA festival of Arts and Culture takes place every year on October 10. This will be our third annual event. Performers include artist from St.Maarten and takes place at the John Larmonie Center.

Tickets are $10 at the gate.  Show time 7pm promptly, seating is limited. We recommend you call and reserve or come early.

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Free “Shadow of a Drought” eBook Released for Migratory Bird Festival

GRAND CASE, St. Martin - In preparation for the upcoming 2015 Migratory Bird Festival, the Les Fruits de Mer association has released a free eBook, Shadow of a Drought, a stunning and poignant photo essay of how drought on St. Martin affects the island's wildlife and important habitats. The book is available for free download in English and French on the association’s website, http://www.lesfruitsdemer.com. The Festival itself will be held on Saturday, October 17th from 9am to 1pm at University of St. Martin in Philipsburg.

Shadow of a Drought, the latest work from wildlife photographer and naturalist Mark Yokoyama, captures dramatic stories of struggle and survival, and starkly illuminates the ravages of climate change and pollution here on the island. “Drought's impact is visually striking and thought-provoking, but also temporary. I wanted to explore that in a way that will still be engaging after a couple months of rain. Our collective memory provides context for both extreme events and long-term changes. It helps us understand the present and prepare for the future,” says Yokoyama, author of The Incomplete Guide to the Wildlife of Saint Martin and Eye on Endemics.

“This eBook is really a one-of-a-kind documentation of the effects of drought on this island, and it heavily features the wetland habitats that are crucial to migratory birds,” explains Jenn Yerkes, President of Les Fruits de Mer. “These ecosystems are already vulnerable, and they're a precious part of St. Martin's natural heritage. They're why this island is so important for so many migratory birds. Every year, these species journey across the globe to St. Martin because we have something that many other islands don't–the wetland habitats where these birds can find the foods they need as well as the right spots to nest, rest, and mate.” 

Selected photography from the eBook will be on display at the Shadow of a Drought Exhibition at the October 17th Migratory Bird Festival.  The free, public Festival will also feature guided birdwatching tours, migratory bird presentations, a “Portable Pond” Observation Station for aquatic invertebrates, art activities, a free giveaway of heritage Gaïac seedlings, and a special Heritage Salt Walk led by archaeologist Jay Haviser at 9:30am. The 2015 Migratory Bird Festival is presented by Les Fruits de Mer and University of St. Martin, and is made possible by the hard work of many volunteers and the generosity of event sponsors Hotel L’Esplanade, Calmos Cafe, Delta Petroleum and Aqua Mania Adventures.

For more information about the event, or to download the free Shadow of a Drought eBook, visit http://www.lesfruitsdemer.com or find Les Fruits de Mer on Facebook.

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ST. KITTS WINS ANNUAL EASTERN CARIBBEAN GOLF ASSOCIATION TOURNAMENT

MULLET BAY - The title for the Overall Team Gross score of this year’s ECGA tournament hosted by the St. Maarten Golf Association SMGA at the Mullet Bay Golf Course, was won by the island of St. Kitts with a total combined score of 1,281 Low Gross. Martinique ended up in second place with a combined score of 1,307. The Overall Team Net score was won by St. Maarten with a score of 1,122 after deduction of the team combined handicap.

Due to good preparation, team spirit and home field advantage, the St. Maarten team was able to keep pace with the top teams and perform in an exceptional way. Winning top honors in the Overall Team Net score meant that all members in their specific category excelled during the weekend.

The overall Low Gross score in the Men’s category where each team consisted of 4 men was won by Antigua with a combined Low Gross score of 444. In second place came St. Kitts with a combined Low Gross score of 447. The Overall Low Net score in the Men’s category was won by team St. Maarten consisting of Howard Hobgood, Kit Lee, Jesus Rivera and Stanley Samuel with a combined score of 417, followed by St. Thomas who shot a combined Low Net score of 436.

The Overall Low Gross score in the Ladies team category consisting of 3 ladies per team was won by Martinique with a combined score of 334 Low Gross, followed by Guadeloupe who had a combined score of 348 Low Gross. The Overall Net Score in the Ladies team category was won by our own St. Maarten team consisting of Anne-Marie Bouillé, Sidsel Jacobsen and Gitte Poulsen who had a combined Low Net score of 283 beating the tournament favorites from St. Kitts by only 2 shots.

The Overall Low Gross score in the Seniors team for players between 50 and 60 years old was won by the team of St. Kitts Nevis with an overall 302. In 2nd place came the island of Montserrat with a total combined score of 306. Again the St. Maarten Seniors team, consisting of Sam Bashir, Steven Mix and Philippe Thévènet showed their team spirit and blew away the field with a combined score of 279 Low Net after deduction of their combined handicap. In Second place with a 10 shot difference came in the island of Martinique with a combined score of 289 Low Net.

The Overall Low Gross score in the Super Seniors team for players older than 60 years old was won St. Thomas with an overall Low Gross score of 158, followed by Antigua with an overall Low Gross Score of 161. Overall Low Net score was won by St. Kitts with a score of 140, followed by St. Croix with a 141.

In the Ladies category, Maëva Vanoverschelde from Martinique won the individual Low Gross prize with a score of 155. Individual Low Net was won by Joann Delay from St. Kitts with a score of 142 Low Net.

In the category Men’s, Paul Michael from Antigua won the individual Low Gross prize with a score of 143, followed by our own Howard Hobgood from St. Maarten who won second individual Low Gross by a difference of only 3 strokes. Stanley Samuel also from team St. Maarten took individual first Low Net with a score of 137.

Canice Louis from St. Kitts shot a total score of 147 to win the Individual Low Gross in the category Senior’s for players over 50 years old, while Sam Bashir of St. Maarten won individual 1st Low Net in this category with a score of 134 Low Net after deduction of his handicap.

In the category Super Seniors for golfers over 60 years old, Sam Topp from St. Thomas won individual Low Gross with a score of 158 and individual Low Net was won by Rick van Heckman from St. Croix with a score of 141. The team captain and president of the SMGA, Keith Graham won second place Low Net with a score of 143.

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St. Maarten team wins Overall Low Net and many more category and individual prizes

MULLET BAY - After the first day of this two day 36 hole tournament, St. Kitts was leading with an overall combined score of 646 gross, followed by Martinique with 653 and Guadeloupe was in third place with a score of 660 gross. St. Maarten was in 4th place after the first round with a combined gross score of 662 gross.

After deduction of team and individual handicaps, the St. Maarten Team was leading after day one in the Overall Low Net Team category, the Men’s Team Net category and the Ladies Team Net category. In the Senior’s Team category, St Maarten was trailing leaders Martinique by just one stroke.

The Eastern Caribbean Golf Association Tournament is organized each year by a different host-country and consists of the best players from eleven countries that are a member of the Eastern Caribbean Golf Association (ECGA). These countries are: Anguilla, Antigua-Barbuda, Barbados, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, St. Croix, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Maarten and St. Thomas.

The festivities began on Friday evening at the SONESTA Great Bay Beach Resort with a grand opening of the tournament by the honorable Prime Minister Mr. Marcel Gumbs, which was followed by the flag raising ceremony and introduction off all participating countries and teams. The Generation New Status STM Drum Band, one of the community organizations that received donations from the SMGA over the last years, got the crowd in the festive mood by a great performance.

The St. Maarten Golf Association SMGA was able to organize this top ranked tournament due to the great partnership with Mullet Bay Resort & Golf Course, Coca Cola / CC1 and the St. Maarten Tourist Office. Combined with the tremendous support and sponsorships the SMGA received from Air France – KLM, Bank of

Nova Scotia, Canon Business Systems Services, Caribbean Alliance Insurance, Cariburo Office Equipment, Dauphin Telecom, Holland House Beach Hotel, KPMG accountants, Oyster Bay Beach Resort, PricewaterhouseCoopers, RBC Royal Bank, Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Winair Airlines, the tournament turned out the be an overwhelming success.

It is without saying that the relentless efforts from the SMGA members, volunteers and help from children from community organizations like the ‘LAB Sports Academy’ from Les Brown and the Junior Golf Foundation of St. Maarten made the organization of this prestigious tournament run as smooth as it did.

The St. Maarten Golf Team consisted of the following 12 players that will compete in 4 categories:

•        Ladies          : Sidsel Jacobsen, Gitte Poulsen and Anne-Marie Bouillé

•        Men             : Howard Hobgood, Jesus Rivera, Kit Lee and Stanley Samuel

•        Seniors         : Sam Bashir, Steven Mix and Philippe Thevenet

•        Super-Seniors         : Richard Gibson and Keith Graham

The St. Maarten team members were selected based on their 5 best scores from a total of 9 monthly Medal Play tournaments that were organized by the SMGA during the period from October 2014 until August 2015. These monthly Medal Play tournaments attract average around 30 golfers, most of which are very competitive and eager to make the St. Maarten team.

The SMGA is a non-profit organization of avid golfers that promotes the practice of the game of golf and to foster community sense. The SMGA organizes golf matches and tournaments for its members and non-members and donates most of its proceeds that are made through membership fees and during these events like the St. Maarten Open to multiple community organizations on the island.

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World’s Animal Day- Arts, Crafts & Stuff

MADAME ESTATE - October 4, 2015 is World’s Animal Day, a day we celebrate mankind’s relationship with the animal kingdom. Did you know that the St Maarten Zoo has 46 different types of specifies? Well we do! Did you also know that the St Maarten Zoo houses an animal that can also be found in the secondary forest in northwestern Colombia? Well we do, it’s our Cotton-top Tamrin, a small new world monkey weighing less than 0.5 k.g. 

Along with rest of the world, we will be celebrating animal life in all its forms including endangered and rare species. We should acknowledge and be thankful for the many positive influences and diverse roles animals play in our lives.  They not only bring wonder to this world we share but also help keep a natural balance.

The St. Maarten Zoological & Botanical Garden Foundation will be celebrating  animals  and its  existence   with an Arts, Crafts & Stuff  event  at  the zoo on October 4, 2015  starting  at 11 am  until  5pm.  There will be vendors in which you will be able to buy items in preparation for St Maarten Day’s such as, t-shirts and accessories. Delicious food and drink will also be on sale.

Using the saying one man’s junk is another man treasure! You will be able to find your own treasure at affordable prices.  To entertain the younger generation and educate them about our animals, there will also be an informative- interactive tour for which   they will be able to ask questions about animals in zoo.

We are also collaborating with Funtopia, children will be able to get their face painted, balloon molder will be on stilts, there will be appearances by the popcorn mascot & junior bouncing castle will be there for their playful entertainment and Funtopia will also be given the children the opportunity to register onsite to join the Funclub.  All proceeds will go towards the Funtopia Youth Initiative.

We are inviting families, vendors to come down and celebrate World Animal day at the Zoo on Sunday, October 4, 2015.  Tickets may be bought at entrance, children are $2 and adults are only $5. Starting at 11 am until 5pm.

Should you be interested in being a vendor at the World animal day, please contact Public Relations Officer of the Board, Caisha Evans at tel. 5273530 and/or contact us by emailThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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International Migratory Bird Festival Focuses on Habitat Restoration in St. Martin

ST. MARTIN - In a region that seems blessed with eternal summer, one of the most noticeable signs of autumn is the arrival of countless migratory birds. Leaving their summer breeding grounds in North America, they transform Caribbean wetlands and forests with their colors and songs. Events celebrating these birds and their miraculous migrations are also arriving this month with International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD). 

IMBD is coordinated across the Western Hemisphere by Environment for the Americas (EFTA), and events are held in over 700 locations from Canada to Argentina. BirdsCaribbean is the regional coordinator for events throughout the Caribbean, which begin in October.

Two Caribbean IMDB events have been announced for St. Martin. The third annual Migratory Bird Festival will be held on Saturday, October 17th from 9am to 1pm at the University of St. Martin in Philipsburg. Organized by the non-profit association Les Fruits de Mer, the event will include guided bird walks on the Great Salt Pond, a Portable Pond Discovery Station where visitors can see the tiny animals that many of these birds eat, presentations about migratory birds, art activities for children and more. The event is free and kid-friendly.

Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC) will be hosting a guided bird walk at Little Bay Pond on Sunday, October 4th. Learn more and sign up on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/epicislands.

The theme of IMBD this year is “Restore Habitat, Restore Birds.” This theme is particularly relevant in the Caribbean, where natural habitats share limited island real estate with dense human populations and intensive development. The migratory pathways and overwintering grounds of the Caribbean are an indispensable part of the life cycle of about 350 bird species, from egrets and ducks to hawks and songbirds.

“We use birds as an inspiration to restore forests and wetlands,” explains BirdsCaribbean President Leo Douglas. “The underlying truth is that supporting habitat restoration is always a wise focus. Healthy local habitats are essential for human health, our agricultural base and the natural beauty that drives tourism.” Douglas further notes that the mangroves that protect us from storm surges and form critical fish nurseries are simultaneously important habitat for birds. Similarly, island forests, which shelter a rich diversity of bird life, are critical for preventing erosion and devastating land-slippages and mud slides.

St. Martin’s Migratory Bird Festival will highlight habitat restoration with a giveaway of Lignum Vitae seedlings, also known as Gaïac. Les Fruits de Mer’s heritage tree project—Club Gaïac—aims to restore this endangered native tree to both minds and gardens. The Festival team will share an interactive map of Lignum Vitae trees on St. Martin, tips on how to cultivate seedlings and information about the history and ecology of this tree. Hundreds of seedlings have been distributed since the Club Gaïac project began earlier this year.

As part of this year’s festivities, BirdsCaribbean has produced a free ebook about native trees: Heritage Plants. This illustrated book explains the importance of native trees to birds and other animals, includes a guide featuring dozens of native trees of particular value, and serves as a resource to foster habitat restoration within local communities.

“Planting a native tree is a fantastic way to beautify your backyard or neighborhood,” notes BirdsCaribbean’s Executive Director Lisa Sorenson. “Along with birds, native trees are some of the most iconic features of the Caribbean landscape, and their roots are deeply intertwined with both the wildlife and the cultures of the region.”

The ebook Heritage Plants is available for free download on the Resources page of birdscaribbean.org. For additional IMBD resources, visitwww.migratorybirdday.org. For more information about the Migratory Bird Festival and Club Gaïac, visit www.lesfruitsdemer.com. The 2015 Migratory Bird Festival is hosted by Les Fruits de Mer and University of St. Martin, and funded by sponsorships from Hotel L’Esplanade, Calmos Cafe, Delta Petroleum and Aqua Mania Adventures.

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Work group started for vocational Education on St. Eustatius and Saba

SABA/ST. EUSTATIUS - Last week the work group vocational education St. Eustatius and Saba met for the first time. The work group has been assigned to produce an implementation plan in December 2015 for the redevelopment of the vocational education in St. Eustatius and Saba.

The redevelopment is necessary because with the choice for English as language of instruction also for vocational education the need arose to use an English language exam structure. Following a thorough orientation at the end of last school year the choice was made for the vocational training system of the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC), called CVQ (Caribbean Vocational Qualification).

The CVQ vocational training system is similar to the mbo system within the Dutch education system. The working group, in close cooperation with the ROA (Council for Education and the Labour Market) Caribbean Netherlands, will see which training courses within the CVQ system meets the needs of the local labour market on these two islands and which demands this will place on the teachers and all the necessary equipment for the schools involved. The aim is to have the CVQ system operational on Saba in August 2016 and on St. Eustatius most likely in August 2017.

The work group is comprised of the Directors of secondary schools on St. Eustatius and Saba, the Coordinator for the transition to English as instruction language on St. Eustatius, the Policy Advisor of RCN/Education, Culture and Science and the Head of the RCN/Education, Culture and Science. (RCN Caribbean Netherlands)

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Sonesta Maho hosts Health Fair for staff

MAHO REEF - Good health is integral to personal well-being and productivity. The Maho Group is very conscious of the benefits of good health and that many people, including its employees, may not always take time to get basic check-ups and information about healthy lifestyle choices. To balance the scales, the group recently hosted a health fair for the staff of Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino.  

The one-day health fair saw more than 100 employees take timeout from their duties to gather information from health professionals and get rapid tests for, among others, diabetes, memory and HIV – all standard tests in today’s fast paced world.

Professionals from White and Yellow Cross Foundation provided blood pressure and blood sugar tests. They also calculated individual’s Body Mass Index (BMI) based on their weight, height and age to determine this health risks.

St. Maarten AIDS Foundation conducted confidential rapid HIV tests along with pre- and post-counselling for those who were tested. The tests followed the same protocol as the foundation uses for its regular public testing days.

A sharp mind is essential to carrying out tasks at home and on the job and St. Maarten Alzheimer’s Foundation gave Sonesta Maho employees information on how to keep their mind and cognitive thinking sharp and focused.

Eye heath was not neglected. SXM Optical carried out free eye screening and made recommendations to ensure continued eye health and well-being.

All of the tests were offered to employees free of charge and were completely confidential. The information gather from the tests were solely for the employee.

There was such an overwhelming response to the fair that employees were queuing up to get health information and tests well after the end time for the event. That led Sonesta Maho to invite some foundations that participated in the fair to conducted tests the following day. The second day also saw and much interest from employees. 

The Maho Group said the health fair is part of its ongoing efforts to take care of its employees. “When our employees take care of their health it’s a win-win for everyone. The employee wins by knowing how to take care of themselves for their well-being and that of the family. For Sonesta Maho, healthy employees mean happy employees and for our guests healthy, happy and motivated employees help to make their stays on the island amazing.” 

A similar health fair for employees only is planned for Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort Spa and Casino onWednesday, October 7.

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CHTA JOINS UNWTO IN COMMEMORATING WORLD TOURISM DAY – RECOGNIZING GROWING IMPACT OF TOURISM AS SOCIO-ECONOMIC DRIVER

THE CARIBBEAN - Tourism continues to grow as a powerful force for transforming people and societies according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) which is calling for a renewed focus on the importance of tourism as it commemorates World Tourism Day (#WTD2015) on Sept. 27, 2015.

           

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) joins the United Nations and the UNWTO in recognizing tourism as a key socio-economic development tool for communities and countries. 

           

In an official message for World Tourism Day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon states, "The potential for tourism for sustainable development is considerable.  As one of the world's leading employment sectors, tourism provides important livelihood opportunities, helping to alleviate poverty and drive inclusive development."

           

The industry's impact regionally and globally continues to grow.  The world recently passed a significant milestone, exceeding one billion annual travelers.  The Caribbean is fast-approaching welcoming a record 30 million travelers to the region.

           

"Tourism continues to present the greatest opportunity for the countries throughout the Caribbean to create jobs, generate tax revenue, and spawn new locally-owned businesses," according to CHTA President Emil Lee.

           

Lee's comments were underscored by UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai who stated, "Tourism has demonstrated its capacity to increase competitiveness, create job opportunities, stem the rural exodus, generate revenues and reinforce the sense of pride and self-esteem within communities."

           

The theme for World Tourism Day is 1 Billion Tourists, 1 Billion Opportunities (#1billiontourists).

           

According to the UNWTO, today's more than one billion annual tourists have made tourism a leading economic sector, contributing 10% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 6% of the world's total exports.

           

Lee stressed that the impact on the Caribbean is proportionally far greater.  Relative to its size, out of 12 tourism regions throughout the world, the Caribbean ranks number one globally in the relative importance which tourism has on GDP according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).  Regionally, tourism represents 18.1% of exports.

           

In 2014, the total GDP contribution to tourism regionally was 14.6%, with some jurisdictions like The Bahamas at 43.6% and the British Virgin Islands as high as 85.9%.  Nearly one-third of Jamaica's GDP is tied to tourism.

           

"When we look at the impact of tourism on GDP and employment, with over 2.2 million jobs in the region attributed to tourism, there is no question that this is our region's main economic driver. 

           

It also points to the tremendous potential which we have to drive employment, create new businesses, and address the vexing debt issues facing many of the region's jurisdictions if we have a concerted effort to develop the industry and attract more visitors," states Lee. 

           

CHTA has called for a collaborative effort by the region's public and private sector leaders towards improving the competiveness of tourism and attracting more visitors as a means to job creation and debt reduction.  CHTA and its counterpart public sector organization, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), are working together to facilitate a new level of collaboration.

           

World Tourism Day presents an opportunity to focus on the socio-economic importance of tourism and the role it has played in developing the people and economies of the region while sharing with the world the rich and diverse beauty and cultural heritage of the Caribbean according to CHTA.

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Port St. Maarten World Tourism Day Message

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Sunday, September 27 marks World Tourism Day (WTD).  Port St. Maarten on behalf of the Board of Supervisory Directors, Management and Staff, wishes everybody working in the hospitality and tourism sector a Happy World Tourism Day.

The theme for WTD 2015 is ‘One billion tourists, one billion opportunities.’

With five consecutive years of growth, tourism has been a major contributor to the economic recovery, creating jobs and opportunities for communities in many parts of the world.

Every time somebody travels, for whatever reason, they are part of a global movement; a movement that has the power to drive inclusive development, create jobs and build sustainable societies we want for our future; a movement that builds mutual understanding and can help us safeguard our shared natural and cultural heritage.

This year highlights the global potential for socio-economic development.  With more than one billion international tourists now traveling the world each year to an international destination, tourism has become a powerful and transformative force that is making a genuine difference in the lives of millions of people.

These billion tourists have made tourism a leading economic sector globally contributing 10 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or US$1.5 trillion annually; six per cent of the world’s total exports; and one in eleven jobs in the world.

Tourism is one of the world’ leading employment sectors, tourism provides important livelihood opportunities, helping to alleviate poverty and drive inclusive development.

Port St. Maarten came in second in a 2012 Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) study carried out by the Business Research & Economic Advisors (BREA), about the Economic Contribution of Cruise Tourism to the Destination Economies. 

The average expenditure per passenger in St. Maarten was $185.40, which benefitted numerous industries through purchases of goods that included food and beverage at restaurants and bars, clothing, shore excursions, ground transportation, local crafts and souvenirs, watches and jewelry, perfumes and cosmetics, electronics, entertainment/night clubs/casinos, retail purchases of liquor, and telephone and internet. Total cruise tourism expenditures amounted to over US$356 million for 2011/2012 cruise year.

The same study showed that the average expenditure per crew in St. Maarten was $135.50 on similar products and services. Plus it revealed the direct and indirect employment generated by the cruise industry on the island, totaled 8,123 jobs and US$159.8 million in employee wages.

The aforementioned demonstrates the socio-economic input into the economy of the country making the port a contributor of one-third of the country’s annual GDP.

Earlier this month it was revealed at Seatrade Europe Cruise & River Convention, that Port St. Maarten is ranked number five (5) in the World as a Cruise Transit Port.  In 2014, the country’s national port received 2,001.996 cruise passengers for the first time ever.  2014 also marked 50 years St. Maarten as a cruise destination under the theme “Reinventing Cruise St. Maarten.

“Reinventing Cruise St. Maarten,” is about the port continuing to strategically invest and work with local stakeholders and cruise partners to keep the destination in this leading position.

To successfully maintain and develop port activities, Port St. Maarten has been actively involved in the life of the community where it concerns supporting sustainable development.  The recent inauguration of the Walter Plantz Square is a clear example of the aforementioned and in line with the international principle of shared natural and cultural heritage.

As part of “Reinventing Cruise St. Maarten,” the destination needs to continue to diversify the shopping product mix and experience by offering new tours which also includes the further development and expansion of culture/heritage tourism which is what sets the destination apart from the rest.  This can only be maintained and further pursued by having an aggressive marketing and development strategy.

The development of home-porting requires the support from other stakeholders who are willing and ready to invest in the hotel rooms that are needed to support this expansion of tourism.

In order for St. Maarten to continue to be a premiere tourism destination and a mature cruise port, all sectors in hospitality and tourism have to work together from the cleaner, the guard, the car rental agent, store clear to the manager.  Tourism is interlinked into everything that transpires on St. Maarten and therefore nobody can become complacent.  The development and building of relationships are essential for the future of cruise and stay-over tourism.

Security and safety of visitors to the destination is also a key factor to sustainable development.

Remember, tourism is everybody’s business as it revitalizes history and traditions of the past to set the foundations for the future. Last year the country received over two million cruise visitors, and with that comes opportunities.

Once again, on behalf of the Board of Supervisory Directors, Management and Staff of Port St. Maarten, to all tourism and hospitality workers, the people who, each and every day, wake to work in the sector, playing their part, making their impact, and sharing their story, and to the community of St. Maarten, a Happy World Tourism Day. 

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