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Tourist Bureau calls on all Chefs to Register

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) is currently in the process of building a database comprising of all chefs on the island.

The objective is to have a database of chefs and food & hospitality professionals from around the island that the STB can use as a resource tool for the chefs to work with STB on various projects showcasing their culinary talents to various stakeholders as well as visitors. 

If you are interested, you should email your name, qualifications, specialties and contact information to the following address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Chefs and culinary professionals understand food origin and history.  Food tourism represents a very important and growing economic sector in many parts of the world.

Sint Maarten/St. Martin has been referred as the gastronomic capital of the Caribbean.  Gastronomy is an opportunity that has allowed destinations to revitalize and diversify tourism.

STB is looking forward to hearing from the chefs and culinary professionals. 

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Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performance Arts Students to compete in France

PHILIPSBURG - The Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performance Arts (CBA) proudly announces its students Faith Peterson, Kiara Vanterpool, Lian Borsje, Ray Angel Boasman and Jeremiah David, who will be forming part of the National Institute of Arts (NIA) delegation to compete in Champagne, France, from May 25-28, 2017. 

The total delegation of students traveling to France is eight of which five are the CBA students. Th students had first competed in the prestigious Regionaux Confederation National De Danse held for the first time in St. Martin in April this year.

The CBA students were amongst 100 students that took part in the inaugural competition in the dance genres consisting of Ballet, Jazz, Modern Contemporary and Outre Style.  Lian Borsje and Kiara Vanterpool are sitting their Dance CSEC examinations on Wednesday May 24, 2017 after which they will go directly to the airport to catch their flight to France. 

Director of the CBA, Mrs. Claudette Forsythe Labega notes that “our students Faith Peterson (form 2,), Kiara Vanterpool, Ray Angel Boasman, Jeremiah David (all in form 4) and Lian Borsje (form 5) respectively have worked hard to qualify to compete in this event under the tutelage of Arlene Halley Newhouse and Clara Reyes, co-directors of NIA. 

We thank NIA for closely working together with CBA to prepare our students for regional and international representations and would like to wish our students much success in the competitions.

Furthermore, Mr. Roy Lynch, Ray Angel’s father, expresses heartfelt gratitude to directors of NIA, Arlene and Clara and all the teachers for their attentiveness and passion in their craft. “Anytime they are on a plateau, it seems that they outdo themselves. With this trip to France, our son will be competing amongst 5000 of the best in the world. We want to thank them very much for giving him the opportunity and wish them the very best” he stated.

Lian Borsje, who has competed in this category in the past and is a defending champion from St. Maarten, is one of the form 5 students of CBA’s first cohorts writing the CXC examinations. “I feel so excited and ready to perform even better than I did in 2016 and hop that I will do my best and continue to enjoy the experience” said Lian.

At the CBA, we strongly believe that a combination of the academic performance and exposure to the highest levels of competitions will position our St. Maarten/St. Martin creative talents in the international map.

The mission of CBA is to “Pour joy into their hearts and into the hearts of others through the love and through the expression of the arts. To shine the light that is within their hearts into the hearts of others and to explore into their wonderful spirits, their love of their beings and the reason for their existence.”  

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USM and WITU invites sociologist of education Dr.Weiner to share research on schooling practices in the Dutch Kingdom

POND ISLAND - There are two matters all St Martiners agree on. The first is the importance of education as a way for the every Peter, Paul, Pablo, Ping, Maria, Melissa, and Mahati to become a lawyer, doctor, nurse, carpenter, electrician, or scientist.

The second, is that education on this island is in need of improvement. It is important however to recognize that part of fixing any situation is thoroughly understanding how one got into that situation and how seemingly easy solutions might be costly in the long run. 

Given this state of affairs, the University of St. Martin (USM) has teamed up with Windward Island Teachers Union (WITU) to invite Dr. Melissa Weiner, an internationally renowned sociologist of education, to Sint Maarten to share her research on schooling practices in the Dutch Kingdom.

Dr. Weiner teaches as the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. She researches and publishes on the ways in which colonially derived ideas about the appropriate role of men and women, the adequate education for the children of the working classes, and the importance attached to skin colour and hair type, continues to be part of the unacknowledged curriculum throughout the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  

On the importance of the lecture, Mrs.  Claire Elshot-Aventurin, President of the WITU stated, “this is a great opportunity to collaborate with the University of St Martin in presenting to the teaching staff of Sint. Maarten, and the public at large this informative and educational lecture from this young professor.

As a union it makes us proud to know that our members can be empowered in their work by attending locally organized lecture of this nature. This will help the teachers to hear, analyze and admit to which level they would want to bring education”.

To make sure that this lecture meets the needs of the teaching population, Dr. Francio Guadeloupe, the President of USM, has consulted with various school boards and actively enlisted the help of local veterans in education.

One of these veterans is, comedian, and artists, Ms. Dorothy Richardson who has been active for 45 years in education. When asked why she took up the offer to be part of the organizing committee, Ms. Richardson had this to say, “it is long overdue that we as a people revisit, and rethink the function and goals of the educational system in our society.

This time, we must genuinely work towards nation building through education. I look forward to Dr. Wiener’s discourse ‘of how decolonizing education can subvert the current status and promote nation building”.

Dr. Guadeloupe invited the entire public of St. Martin – both sides of the island – to attend the conversation as it is about the future of your son, daughter, and grandchildren.

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28 Countries to be Represented at Largest Airlift Conference ever held in the Caribbean

SIMPSON BAY - Without exaggeration, the in June upcoming Caribbean Aviation Meetup in St. Maarten may be called the most significant and largest airlift conference ever held in the Caribbean. The numbers speak for themselves; thirty highly qualified professionals making thirty presentations spread over three days. 

Conference participants are coming from 28 countries and territories being: Anguilla, Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Commonwealth of Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Jamaica, Luxemburg, Nevis, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Saba, St. Barth, St. Eustatius, St. Lucia, St. Maarten/St. Martin, St. Vincent, Suriname, Switzerland, Trinidad, Turks & Caicos, UK, USA, and US Virgin Islands.

Airlift is not just an aviation or airline matter. Its impact is vital for any economy. The number of tourists who are flying to visit a destination determine the overnight stays. The overnight stays are related how many rooms are occupied, how many restaurants are visited and how many days cars are rented. It is therefore that this conference gathers stakeholders from both aviation and tourism industries. 

The Caribbean Aviation Meetup sets itself apart from any other political summit or industry association meeting that emphasizes one particular theme or subject only, be it airline routing, tourism sustainability, or a business sector. These meetings often miss an important point. If one focusses on one segment but cannot bring it in the perspective to other segments, then it becomes a matter of, popularly said, the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing. Problems do not get solved effectively; they may even become more complicated. Departmental thinking may have an isolating effect.

Exactly that it is why it is important to have a conference platform where stakeholders from aviation and tourism industries, as well government agencies and politicians gather. The purpose of the Caribbean Aviation Meetup is to bring parties from all industry perspectives and geographical areas together. The presentations have different objectives. For one, each of them is the introduction to what might be further discussed during the conference. Some of presentations offer new ideas and food for thought. Others may be informing, explaining, or educational.

The conference will start with an opening reception in “St. Maarten Culture Style” sponsored by the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau on behalf of the Government of St. Maarten. The conference itself is hosted Princess Juliana International Airport – SXM Airport. During the Award Evening, the winner of the “Most Scenic Airport Landing in the World” contest will be celebrated. Four outstanding performances in Business Aviation will be honored with a Sapphire Pegasus Award.

On the first conference day, plenary sessions will be held. On the second and third day, there will be two parallel streams of break-out sessions. The presentations include the following:

“Leadership in aviation”

“What the Caribbean needs to pay attention to”

“Private aircraft charter and its luxury tourism clientele”

“Airport hub partnership”

“US Customs and Immigration Pre-Clearance”

“Taxation; airline passengers and tourists”

“Seaplanes in the Caribbean; potential for airlift and as tourism product”

“International Media Panel Discussion on aviation and travel”

“Inter-Island Tourism”

“Regional Airline Development”

“How simple and efficient IT operations drive great results”

“Tourism Development in Suriname”

“Decision making in aviation based on gathered data and intelligence”

“A new model for a private-sector airline in the Caribbean”

“Luxury Tourism”

“Presentation of aircraft and models”

“Merchandising concept combining efforts of airlines, airports and hotels”

“Airport and airline route planning”

“Aviation and airport safety - compliance with ICAO”

“Trip Planning in Business and Private Aviation”

“Disaster planning under volcanic and hurricane conditions”

“The Use of VVIP Helicopters in the Caribbean”

“Managing Aviation Safety in the Growing Caribbean Region”

“International Air Rally to the Caribbean”

“Airport Development and Construction”

“Why and how airlines, resorts and tourism boards should cooperate for a common goal”

“Solutions for Inter-Island Airlift in the Caribbean”

“FBO safety and FBO staff training”

On Wednesday afternoon of the conference, there will be Airport Terminal and Air Traffic Control Tower tours, as well as a Static Display of four Aircraft.

A factory-new seaplane will be flown in from Wichita Kansas by the US aircraft manufacturer Cessna/ Textron. The airplane will be available for demonstrations and splash landings in St. Maarten, Anguilla and Nevis.

During the conference the potential future founding of a Caribbean Aviation Association or Caribbean Airlift Council will be discussed in informal meetings. An independent and impartial entity is considered desirable to provide professional expertise, coordination, and mediation in order to solve dilemmas and streamline procedures as well as for assistance in initiating and planning projects in the region. The entity may serve both aviation and tourism industries, but also government authorities.

Currently twelve international aviation and travel journalists as well as a TV crew are accredited.  They are coming from the USA (4), Canada, UK, Spain, Switzerland, Barbados, St. Lucia and Trinidad. The conference will have a professional photographer on duty to support the media representatives. A videographer will cover the events and presentations of the conference. A selection of videos will become available on a YouTube channel of the Meetup.

The conference venue is the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort. Participants are offered a special corporate room rate. The conference is held June 13-15. Further detailed information like speaker profiles, conference registration, hotel reservation, etc. can be found on the website: www.caribavia.com

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Police continues Robbery Awareness program

PHILIPSBURG - On Wednesday May 17th the second of four Robbery Awareness Trainings conducted by the Sint Maarten Police Force, mainly the Community Police Officers, in collaboration with the Philipsburg Safety and Security Committee was given to business owners and their employees on Front Street and members of the Indian Merchant Association at the Cultural Center on Back Street.

These Robbery Awareness Training are given free of charge by the Police Department to any business upon their request. The trainings are given to these business owners to help them and their employees’ better deal with situation in the event they become victims of a robbery.

The training was well attended. Also attending the training were the President of the Indian Merchant Association Mr. Damu and the president of Philipsburg Safety and Security Committee Mr. Eric Ellis. (Police Force Sint Maarten) 

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Independence for St. Martin Foundation believes Parliament will do the right thing

GREAT BAY - Following its presentation to parliament on Wednesday, May 17, 2017, the Independence for St. Martin Foundation (ISMF) said it is encouraged by the response of the legislative body to its call for a constitutional referendum. 

“Parliament is the only authority that can convene a referendum and even though, as President of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams pointed out, a new constitutional status is not specifically mentioned in the constitution as one of the reasons for a referendum, it is now for Parliament to do the right thing and allow the people of St. Martin to determine their own future,” said José Lake, Jr., president of the foundation. 

“We strongly believe that Parliament will do the right thing and convene the referendum we are asking for either through the so-called initiative law or by prevailing on government to submit a draft national ordinance that would facilitate a new constitutional referendum,” Lake said. 

He added: “After all parliament itself exists today thanks to the constitutional referendum that was held 17 years ago.”

He thanked Parliament for the support it continues to show for the position of the foundation in favor of independence for St. Martin and reiterated that the people have a right to express their views in a referendum. 

“That is what we’re asking for: a referendum for the people to have their say about their own future and the future of their children and grandchildren.”

“The fact that we have appeared before parliament four times in one year on the same issue shows that parliament considers the referendum an important matter,” he said. 

“We will continue to urge them to do the right thing for our people who must decide on their future,” Lake said after the central committee meeting.

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APS AND FINANCE MINISTER SIGN PENSION REFORM FINANCING AGREEMENT

MAHO –  Actual pension reforms in St. Maarten are one step closer to being implemented, following the signing of an agreement between the general pension fund administrator, APS and St. Maarten’s Finance Minister, Richard Gibson Sr.

The agreement was signed on Friday last, at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, as a major highlight of the APS 2017 pension seminar, held at the same venue.

Signing on behalf of APS were APS board officials, Mr. Franklyn Richards and Mr. Guilliano Saturnilia.

“The agreement as reached between St. Maarten’s general pension fund, APS and the country’s minister of finance is part of the process on pension reform which has been ongoing” says APS board chairman Franklyn Richards. He added that the agreement specifically takes into consideration the need for structural changes to the pension plan, which would make it more sustainable.

This latest agreement contributes significantly to the overall sustainability of the pension fund - one of the drivers of the pension reform initiative, according to Richards.

The signing of the agreement comes after several aspects related to the pension reform project have been mutually agreed upon.

“Since participants of the APS fund are entitled to a lifelong pension, as stipulated by law, APS is required to have a minimum amount of funds always available. This pension provision makes sure that APS would be able to meet its financial obligations to all its participants, when that time arises”, notes the APS chairman of the board.

The agreement takes into consideration aspects such as longer life expectancy and the actuarial return. These may have a substantial negative impact on the financial position of the pension fund thereby limiting the fund’s ability to meet its legal pension obligations.

The signed agreement entails that the government of St. Maarten will inject capital into the pension fund if the financial position of the fund is threatened, because of the aforementioned factors.

Discussions preceding the agreement carefully looked at the life expectancy of participants.

Cognizant that it is impossible to predict how long a participant will live, the pension fund uses actuarial tables and historical data of its own participants, along with local and regional statistics to calculate how many years the pension fund can be expected to pay out a pension to each of its participants.

These include payment of senior’s pensions and benefits to their surviving family members in the form of widow(er)’s and orphan’s pension, in the event of their passing. Currently, this period of paying out pensions is about 30 years in duration.

With persons enjoying a longer life span, however, a larger provision would be needed to cover a longer payout period, in the future.

Another important aspect, which APS discussed with government is the long-term interest yields that the fund can expect to earn on relatively risk-free investments, such as U.S. treasury bonds.

This is used to calculate the provision that would be required. The actuarial return is now set at 4 percent, similar to the past years.

With interest rates remaining low for many years, expectation is that the actuarial return rate may have to be lowered in the coming years.

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REAL AUTO EXPANDS DEALERSHIP WITH ADDITIONAL LOCATION IN GRAND-CASE, ST. MARTIN

GRAND CASE, St. Martin - After a mere nine months of operations, Real Auto is proud to announce that the company has expanded with an additional location in Grand Case, St. Martin. The new Real Auto showroom in Grand Case is an extension of the dealership in Philipsburg. It is located at2 Z.A. de L’Esperance, Grand Case St. Martin (airport road). 

"We are on the move with realizing our vision for providing durable vehicles, quality parts, and customer-focused automobile services to all residents throughout the entire island of St. Maarten/ St. Martin," says Karl Nassief, Real Auto's Managing Director/Owner. 

Real Auto is the authorized dealership for Toyota, Suzuki and Chevrolet, which are now also being offered on French St. Martin to better serve all customers, island-wide. 

Real Auto French SXM is managed by Frederic Dayre, who has been a resident of St. Martin for more than 18 years. Frederic was introduced to the automobile industry in the Southwest of France as the youngest salesman at the age of 17. He is supported by Natasha Brunache, the Sales Representative, who is transitioning from the Philipsburg location to Grand Case with 10+ years of automobile industry experience. 

"We are excited about the opening of our vehicle sales division, as well as future development plans in French St. Martin. This is just the beginning of Real Auto's growth," shares Felix Nevarez, Real Auto's General Manager. "As we work towards becoming the most dynamic group of automotive companies in the Caribbean, we are continuously improving our world class operations to ensure that we build and maintain life-long “REAL”ationships with our business partners, customers and the community of St. Maarten." 

For further information on Suzuki, Toyota, and Chevrolet vehicles, parts, products and services please contact Real Auto “where you get the REAL DEAL!” T: (721) 542-2318/ 542-0100 (Dutchside), or T: 05.90.52.45.65 (Frenchside). E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.FB: Real Auto B.V. W: www.realautosxm.com

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USM HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT STUDENTS RECEIVE ‘FOOD HANDLERS FOOD SAFETY CERTIFICATE’

POND ISLAND - In partial fulfilment of the requirements of their ‘Food and Beverage Operations’ course, USM’s Hospitality Management students ALL passed the exam and received their ‘Food Handlers Food Safety Certificate.’

Mr. Jan van Beek, the instructor of the USM course, said that he really would like to thank Mr. Michael Somersal of Steflogix who made it all possible and facilitated the course free of charge. 

He added that as the students involved will be doing a work-placement over the summer, it is an advantage for them that they have this certificate under their belt.

According to Mr. Erwin Wolthuis, head of the hospitality division, this is again a great example of what the fully accredited curriculum of the hospitality program stands for.

In our present BTEC accredited program the focus is on truly preparing the students for a career in the hospitality industry. We aim to do this by integrating professional certificates in the academic program; hence, this is not the only certificate they are prepared for next to their academic degree.

Coming August, a new cohort of the accredited HNC in Hospitality Management will commence. We are inviting everybody who has an interest in obtaining this international recognized diploma can.  For more information please feel free to drop by Soualiga Blvd #1, apply online by clicking “apply now” at  www.usm.sx

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Prepare for 2017 Atlantic hurricane season; Remember it only takes one

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Office of Disaster Management (ODM), is calling on the Sint Maarten community to begin to prepare timely for the Atlantic hurricane season, and to have the necessary plans in place before the peak period of the season which is from August – October.  The hurricane season opens on June 1st.

The first named-storm of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season formed in April and was named Arlene. Arlene became the only second April storm on record and remained out in the open central Atlantic Ocean.  The second April storm system was Ana in 2003.

This was the third consecutive year a storm system in the Atlantic has formed before the official June 1 start of the hurricane season, with 2012, 2015 and 2016 reporting storm formation before June 1.

The remaining storm names for the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season are: Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey, Irma, Jose, Katia, Lee, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rina, Sean, Tammy, Vince and Whitney.

ODM is urging residents to use the next few weeks to prepare adequately by reviewing your annual hurricane season preparatory list.

ODM adds that the country’s disaster preparedness and emergency management mechanisms will be ready to deal with any eventuality arising during the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season.

“As we do for every hurricane season, preparing for a storm strike is necessary. Every household and business should take the necessary precautions by preparing, because it only takes one hurricane strike to make it a bad season.

“Check your disaster plan and review your disaster supply kit.  Prepare early and avoid being caught unprepared.  Minimize your dependence on government, family or friends.  Preparedness starts with every one of us within our communities,” ODM pointed out.

Some of the preparations that should be carried out now are checking hurricane shutters and the roof of your home or business, and to make sure windows and shutters close securely.

Persons living along coastal areas as well as those in flood prone areas should start looking at what measures they would take in the event of a hurricane which could cause flood challenges.

Mariners who are seeking shelter in the Simpson Bay Lagoon or Oyster Pond should also make plans to stay with friends or at a hotel until the storm has passed rather than staying on-board the vessel.

The 2017 hurricane season officially runs through November 30.

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