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Tourism Minister Arrindell-Doncher: Carnival’s continued growth means greater economic impact

POND ISLAND - Minister of Tourism Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher congratulated the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation for “a job well done” in organizing and executing Carnival 2017, pointing to the fact that with the continued growth of St. Maarten Carnival, the economic impact for the island is greater. 

“As you know all of Carnival’s subsidy comes directly from the TEATT Ministry with the intention that the SCDF dedicates the majority of these funds to marketing the festival regionally and internationally. Judging by hotel bookings alone through the month of April, Carnival continues to do very well for the economy of St. Maarten with stay-over visitors, most of whom stay for a week or more on St. Maarten. This leads to a positive economic spin-off for hotels, restaurants, car rentals and Carnival Village and events,” the Minister said.

Prior to Carnival 2017 the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau reported that hotel occupancy through April was at 85 percent. The Minister noted that occupancy increased (to approximately 92%) with a surge of visitors to the island in the last two weeks of Carnival. Final numbers is still being compiled. 

The Minister noted that social media and online activity also increased this year with the SCDF utilizing its very popular Facebook page with more than 40,000 likes, Snapchat, Instagram and its website to engage potential visitors from across the world who now know about St. Maarten’s Carnival.

In addition to the SCDF, the Minister explained, there are now several independent video, still-photography and other social media outlets that cater specifically to the promotion of Carnival. “The videos and images that are being spread worldwide about Carnival is very impressive,” she noted.

“The SCDF should also be commended for working with two of the island’s largest tour operators, Nexus Tours and Bella Tours, in executing Carnival Village tours for our visitors and exporting this part of our culture.

“Lastly I would like to thank and congratulate the board and volunteers of the SCDF for the tireless work they put into Carnival on an annual basis. We all enjoy it but sometimes underestimate the magnitude of the work it takes to pull-off a three-week festival. Ministry TEATT, and in particular the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, will continue to work with the SCDF to facilitate further growth of St. Maarten’s largest annual event.

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Nature Foundation Supports Coral Isles Reef Friendly Sun Screen Products

COLE BAY - The Nature Foundation encourages the community of Sint Maarten/St. Martin to use Coral Isles Reef Friendly sunscreen/suntan lotions, Coral Isles Sunscreen is specifically formulated not to have any negative impacts on coral reefs while at the same time protecting users from the sun.

Over the past 30 years, Sint Maarten has lost over 80% of its coral reefs—an alarming statistic that is made even more disturbing by the fact that this has become a trend throughout the Caribbean Region and Globally.

Although climate change (global warming) has long been identified as a primary contributor to coral bleaching, scientists have also identified pollutants in our oceans causing significant damage to coral. Many of these man-made pollutants are common ingredients found in sunscreens.  

Coral reefs are popular recreational spots, they are high-traffic areas for swimmers and divers, many of whom wear sunscreen. Researchers at the Nature Foundation have been studying these high-concentration areas for some time, and there is a growing body of scientific evidence pointing to several ingredients in sunscreen that are highly toxic to coral.

These include Oxybenzone, Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Octinoxate, and Parabens. Most “Safe” sunscreens avoid either Chemicals (Oxybenzone) or minerals (TiO2/ZnO), but seldom both. CORAL ISLES have removed ALL of those harmful ingredients while still maintaining a full broad spectrum UV protection sunscreen. 

The Nature Foundation urges water sports afficonados, especially divers and snorkelers, to use reef safe sunscreen. The Coral Reefs of Sint Maarten, especially in the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area, contribute significantly to the economy of Sint Maarten and all steps should be taken by the community to protect this very important resource.

CORAL ISLES is exclusively distributed by Indo Caribbean Enterprises, part of The Boolchand Group.


Minister Jacobs Expresses her Condolences on the Passing of Neville York

POND ISLAND - The Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (Ministry ECYS) and the Government of St. Maarten hereby extend sincerest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the late Neville York. Our heart goes out to you in this time of bereavement, as you accept this terrible loss, a press release from the Cabinet of the Ministry ECYS. 

Death is never easy to accept for the living, especially sudden and unexpected loss, but we will allow the memories to live on forever and sustain us. 

Neville York was a walking cultural archive, who fought for and shared his knowledge for the cultural development of St. Maarten as well as his artistic drive and excellence, especially with steel pan.

He was the Head of the Department of Culture, and he will definitely be missed by the entire Ministry. He was the brainchild of our "Decade of revitalization of our natural and cultural heritage!" Which we will strive to achieve in his memory. 

My prayers are with the family and friends; may God guide you and give you strength through the trying times ahead and may his soul rest in perpetual peace. 

York was a cultural icon in our community and his legacy will live on forever. His students, who he taught over the decades, will carry on his musical legacy. May Mr. York, live on in our memories forever.


Monday evening Armed robbery at Maho

MAHO - The Special Unit Robbery is presently investigating an armed robbery which took place on Monday May 8th at approximately 11.30 p.m. in the vicinity of Platinum Night Club in Maho.

On the scene the South American victims stated that they were suddenly attacked by two unknown men armed with handguns. These men robbed them of the personal belongings such as, cellular telephone, bank cards, passports, camera along with some tools and two rented cars with license plate 4867 AAB and R-285.

The female victim also stated that she suffered some bruises as a result of the force that was used during the robbery.

Anyone who may have any information regarding this robbery should immediately get in contact with Police Department by calling 54-22222 ext. 213-214-215, the anonymous tip line 9300 or 911. (Police Force Sint Maarten)


Hundred-year-old woman Ernestine Richardson-Bryan dies a week after ‘last wish’ of a royal birthday dinner

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A woman who celebrated her 100th birthday by dining with King Willem-Alexander in the royal palace in Amsterdam two weeks ago has died.

Ernestine Richardson-Bryan was exactly twice as old as the monarch when she met him as one of 150 special guests invited to mark his 50th birthday on April 27. Her family said she passed away a week later on Liberation Day last Friday (May 5).

Her daughter, Yvette, said Mrs Richardson-Bryan had been determined to attend despite her fading health, which had left her bedridden. She was taken by ambulance to the palace from the care home in Brunssum where she lived, with a police escort for the last stage of the journey.

‘She was fully aware of what was going on and enjoyed every minute of her royal reception,’ her daughter told the Telegraaf. ‘My mother wanted to live life to the full and this was the fulfilment of her final wish.’ (DutchNews)


Saint Maarten Martial Arts Federation presents first Competition on May 20

COLE BAY - Saint Maarten Martial Arts Federation (SMMAF) proudly presents its first annual spring competition on Saturday May 20th from 12-4pm at the new MPC Gym. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai Kickboxing will be on display for the public and entrance is free. Parking is available on the roadside, after the main entrance to MPC School. 

Competitors will hail from Marco London's Sityodtong Foundation, SXM BJJ, French St. Martin’s Caribbean Shidokan and Dojo de Concordia and Saint Barths Jiu Jitsu. The specialized mats for the Jiu Jitsu competition area are generously provided by Aartwicht Bell, President of the Sports Federation and National Judo Association. 

SMMAF president Marco London will coordinate the Kickboxing matches and Melissa Bardfield will preside over the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu matches. Referees include Wesley Hendriks of Windward Roads who completed an IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) referee course at the Pan championships in California in March.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor’s ages 5-9 from SXM BJJ will compete in friendly matches against teammates since the other schools do not have any competitors under age 10.

Competitors age 10 and up including adults and teens will have the opportunity to test themselves against the other schools. Due to the highest number of students hailing from SXM BJJ, some students will have to compete against teammates. 

Parents and Children from St. Maarten/St Martin and St Barths martial arts schools are excited to have this opportunity to demonstrate and test their martial arts skills locally since our geographical location makes traveling to international competitions very costly. 

The focus of the organizers is also to build closer bonds across our small, but talented, island region and build confidence in each and every student. For more information, registration form or sponsorship opportunities please contact Melissa Bardfield This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Minister of Tourism says BBC feature on St. Maarten ‘terrific marketing opportunity for island’

POND ISLAND - Minister of Tourism Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher over the weekend praised part 1 of the BBC Travel Show feature on St. Maaten as “marketing and promotion you cannot buy” and a “terrific marketing opportunity for the island.”

She urged the public to check out the episode via the BBC or when the link to episode is placed on this week.

The BBC Travel Show is Europe’s most watched travel show, seen by potentially a quarter-of-a-billion people across the globe.  The BBC Travel Show sent a crew to the island recently to cover the SXM Music Festival. While on island, contact was made with the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau and an interview setup with its new Head Rolando Brison.

Part 1 of the feature on St. Maarten has already aired seven times since Friday. It is scheduled to be aired on the BBC on Wednesday May 10, Thursday May 11 and Tuesday May 16 (check local times).

In the interview with the BBC, Brison was asked about the destination’s tourism product, about the uniqueness of the airport and about the SXM Music Festival that they came to cover and how it fits into the tourism product.

The BBC Travel Show utilizes a network of correspondents in London, Tokyo, Sydney, New York and Kuala Lumpur and the program aims to provide unique insight into the world of travel.

The 30-minute episode about SXM Music Festival show will be broadcasted within the next three to four weeks to a major portion of the 265 million direct subscribers of the BBC channels that broadcast the show, plus many other affiliates around the world as well as potentially millions of views more across YouTube and social media.


CPS Tells Mosquitoes to “Buzz Off” as Mosquito Control Awareness Week Kicks Off on Monday

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Collective Preventive Services (CPS), a government department under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, says there is nothing worse than an unwanted house guest, especially when they do nothing but suck you dry.

Mosquitoes have nasty habits of buzzing around; causing itchy bite marks and making many grab the nearest can of bug repellant.

This year Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week will be observed from May 8 to May 12 under the theme, “Small Bite, Big Threat.”  The Region has become increasingly susceptible to mosquito borne diseases, which threaten the health of the people of the Caribbean, according to the Caribbean Public Health Agency.

CPS in line with the aforementioned and will be providing information via radio and TV programs and the print-media about the elimination of mosquito breeding sites.

Enjoy the outdoors and stop the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses by following tips from CPS to prevent mosquito infestation and control an existing problem.

“Over the last few years, Sint Maarten has had increased cases of mosquito-borne illnesses such as zika virus, dengue fever and chikungunya,” said CPS Environmental Health Officer Gerald Davelaar.

“To ensure the safety of family, friends and pets, it’s extremely important to make sure you’re taking the proper steps: 1st reducing mosquito breeding through water management and source reduction, and 2nd reducing adult mosquito populations.”

One of the easiest and most crucial things to do is to remove any stagnant water you have around your property. Empty pots, tarps, tools and trash cans of any water that has collected after rainfall, because they are all breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

If a mosquito problem already exists, CPS recommends controlling adult mosquitoes through mosquito traps, area spray control and vegetation management.

Mosquitoes can also be kept out of the home by keeping windows, doors and porches tightly screened.

“Eliminating standing water is probably the most important thing to remember when preventing or controlling mosquito problems. Keep it in the back of your mind during all outdoor activities – even remember to irrigate lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing for several days,” added Davelaar.

CPS reminds the public to practice the THREE D’s of mosquito prevention — Drain, Dress and Defend:

• Drain: Empty out water containers at least once per week

• Dress: Wear long sleeves, long pants, and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing

• Defend: Properly apply an approved repellent such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535

Mosquito-borne diseases such as zika, dengue fever and chikungunya are transmitted by the female vector Aedes Aegypti mosquito.

The Aedes Aegypti mosquito is distinguished by its markings. The body of the mosquito has alternate black and white horizontal stripes. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito lays her eggs in clear (clean) stagnant water. Within eight days the mosquito can complete its life cycle from egg, to larvae to pupae and to and adult mosquito.

An increase in the mosquito population puts residents at risk. For information about mosquito-borne diseases prevention measures, you can call CPS at 542-2078 or 542-3003.


Caribbean courts need to be better prepared to judge cybercrimes. Judicial Education urgently needed

SINT MAARTEN/By GERARD BEST - Institutions worldwide are finding it hard to keep up with the rapid pace of advance in computer-based technology. This is all the more so for courts, which are typically steeped in tradition and ponderously slow to change. Globally, systems of justice are struggling to keep track of the sophisticated, rapidly evolving operations of modern cyber-crime.  

But one Caribbean nation is tackling the issue head on, providing an interesting pattern for other countries of the region. The nation of Belize is taking an important step in responding to cybercrime, by upgrading of the capacity of its judiciary. 

“Cybercrime and cyber issues must now have a prominent place in judicial education,” said Kenneth Benjamin, Chief Justice of Belize.  

In Belize, the legislative framework already supports the admission of evidence electronically. However, no laws are yet on the books to specifically criminalise the growing incidence of Internet-based wrongdoings.  

A cybercrime bill is expected to come into force soon, though. With that impending legislation, the Chief Justice plans to fast track judicial education, focusing on technology developments generally and cybercrime specifically. 

“The introduction of new laws must be accompanied by the development of policy and of regulations guiding the detection, investigation and prosecution of any alleged cyber misdeeds,” Benjamin said, adding that only a few judicial officers had already received cybercrime training to date. 

The Chief Justice was speaking at Belize's first-ever national cybersecurity symposium, held in Belize City from April 24 to 28. 

A special forum at the event included judicial officers and magistrates and focused on how cybercrime has been affecting the judiciary globally.  

The weeklong gathering was organised jointly by Belize's Public Utilities Commission and by the Caribbean Network Operators Group, a volunteer-based organisation focused on training programs to build the region’s technical capabilities and safeguard computer networks. 

"This event marks an important milestone for the region's judiciary, and signals a new collaboration between Caribbean jurists and the region's technology community," said Bevil Wooding, a co-organiser of the event and an Internet Strategist with US-based non-profit firm, Packet Clearing House.  

The symposium drew nationwide attention, with more than 700 stakeholders taking par, including members of the Bar Association, military and law enforcement officers, representatives of the business chamber, the Central Bank, the association of ICT professionals, and many concerned citizens. 

"The forum marks the beginning of a process of sensitisation, and we plan to continue collaborating with the CaribNOG team to develop future training interventions for our jurists,” Benjamin said.  


Section of Back Street Closed from 8 May to 21 May as Phase II Commences

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Ministry of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Development and Infrastructure (Ministry VROMI), announces that part of Back Street will be closed from Monday, May 8 to Sunday, May 21.

The closure is in connection to Phase II of placing asphalt on Back Street. The street repair works will be take place daily from 7.00am to 6.00pm.

Barriers will be placed with respect to the closed section of Back Street in connection with Phase II which will be from Zout Steeg to Gevangenis Steeg (Angelo’s Boutique). There will be no through traffic. 

Zout Steeg will be closed to motorized traffic.  Parents of school-going children will have to use Front Street for the next two weeks when dropping off their kids at the St. Joseph Primary School.

Motorists are advised to be observant of detour and directional signs.

The works will be carried out by Windward Roads.

Ministry VROMI apologizes for any inconveniences this may cause.

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