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Arrindell-Doncher participates in first CTO strategy meetings

SINT MAARTEN/NEW YORK - Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher took part in her first Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) meetings as part of CTO’s Caribbean Week in New York.

As part of the Tourism Ministerial Council, Arrindell-Doncher received her official pin as representative of a CTO country.

The Tourism Ministerial Council is comprised of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism, Secretaries of State for Tourism or others of equivalent rank and represents the highest policy making body in the organization.

The Minister took part in discussions that focused on innovation and the sharing Economy – The Transportation Perspective, A different look at tourism data and the Caribbean tourism sector’s mid-year performance and Taking the Caribbean forward – Key Outcomes of the June 6 Strategic Planning Session among others.

“We are part of this region and can learn from initiatives that are being undertaken for the region as a whole. Likewise, we can retain some valuable information about how to fine-tune our initiatives based on our market specifics. So the discussions are fruitful and in some cases eye-opening,” the Minister said.

The CTO also embarked on a strategic planning exercise, in the form of a working session, to develop a new five-year plan for the organization, which will be used as a blueprint to guide its focus and activities over the 2018-2022 period.

A Results-Based Management (RBM) approach was used, which focuses on planning, managing and monitoring for results. CTO aimed to ensure that our planning takes into account the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how CTO’s work contributes to their attainment.

CTO is also working on building Sustainable Tourism Development Principles into our planning and program development activities.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Minister of Tourism Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher receives her CTO Ministerial pin during a meeting of the Tourism Ministerial Council in New York.



K1 Britannia Work Training Program Ends on High Note

PHILIPSBURG - The six month K1 Britannia Work, Training and Social Development Program concluded with a beautiful ceremony held at the John Larmonie Center on Saturday June 3rd, 2017.

The program was made possible through collaborations with the Court of Guardianship, The Foundation Judicial Institutes St. Maarten (SJIS), the business community and sponsors, specifically Samenwerkende Fondson.

During the program, participants received work ready workshops to help prepare them to enter the workforce. They held various paid part time jobs at multiple business on the island, attended their GED tutorials for their GED diploma, completed a computer literacy course at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library, earned their Emergency First Responder certifications and volunteered with organizations on the island. The purpose of the program was to increase the employability and social responsibility of the participants.

Thirteen participants completed the program and were present alongside sponsors, work employers, instructors of the workshops and courses given during the program as well as family and friends that came to support the participants.

Staff of the SJIS and the Court of Guardianship were also present to support the teenagers they guide and protect on a daily basis.

The Master of Ceremony was Mr. Tony Dunkerley, the Program Manager who ran the program and gave guidance and support to the participants during the 6 months.

Speakers of the day included Mrs. Adelena Schaap – Chandler, instructor of the pre-employment workshops, Ms. Jenna Hagenloch, GED tutor, Ms. Rachael Collins, Emergency First Responder Instructor, and Mrs. Mercedes de Windt, President of Animal Defenders.

All participants received their certificate of participation from both Mrs. Rodriguez-Emmanuel and Mrs. Cynthia van Samson – Filemon. Special recognitions were given out for “Best Attitude”, “Most Improved”, “Best Volunteer”, “Best Worker” and “Best Overall Participant”.

The day ended with speeches from two important partners, the Court of Guardianship and SJIS.

Ms. Rodriguez-Emmanuel, director of Court of Guardianship addressed the gathering and used her personal life story as a way to relate and encourage all in attendance.
She gave her wishes to the teenagers saying, “What I wish for each and every one of you here today, especially the participants is for you to realize this, you have a purpose, and we are created with a purpose”.

She ended her speech saying “I wish for each and every one of you, take the deep points, enjoy the high moments, but must of all, journey towards your success. Be grateful for your purpose, your journey and work towards your success. Because you can do it, if I can do it, you can do it too”.

Mrs. Cynthia van Samson- Filemon, acting director of SJIS, also touched on her personal life and talked about purpose and believing in oneself. She closed by saying “Give yourself a chance, you have to determine for yourself what you want in life, find that bigger purpose and you will succeed.”

Tony Dunkerley closed the ceremony with these words “Looking back over the last 6 months, I have really seen all of you undergo a high level of change, both personally and professionally. You have tackled challenges, as a group you have changed. He continued “The changes that I have seen in the participants shows that the youth of St. Maarten, regardless of their backgrounds can achieve great things with a little support and direction.

The support to the participants by K1 Britannia Foundation will not cease with the conclusion of this program as we will continue to help the teenagers’ transition into adult life in the months to come.

Thank you to Ms. Thomas for donating the John Larmonie Center and for Shieka’s for donating the delicious lunch. Thanks also goes to Loic Bryan of Artistic Designs for donating the photography.

Many of the employers and sponsors who assisted this program were encouraged and are now ready to continue working with the foundation to assist the youth.

The foundation is always looking for partners for our programs, if interested, visit or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mrs. Richelda Rodriguez Emmanuel Director of Court of Guardianship addressing the crowd at the ceremony


4.0 Magnitude Earthquake on Monday afternoon East of the Islands

PHILIPSBURG – The University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Center (SRC) recorded a 4.0 magnitude earthquake east of the islands in the North-Eastern Caribbean just before 1.00pm on Monday.

The earthquake took place at a depth of 10km.

The quake center was located 151 km north east of St. Kitts & Nevis; 136 km north of Antigua & Barbuda; or less than 100 miles east of the tip of Anguilla.  



Arrindell-Doncher designates Winair as a National Airline. Paves way for Curacao route

POND ISLAND - Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication TEATT Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher on Thursday last designated Winair as a national airline of St. Maarten, paving the way for the company to service the St. Maarten-Curacao route with PAWA Dominicana under an ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance) agreement.

The Minister signed the designation for Winair as a national carrier after the Civil Aviation Department, which falls under the Ministry of TEATT, requested the Minister’s approval of the designation.

For Winair to be approved by the Curacao Civil Aviation Authority, the airline first had to be officially designated under the Multi-Lateral Protocol for the Liberalization of Air Transport as a national carrier of St. Maarten.

The protocol is signed between the four partners within the Kingdom (St. Maarten, Aruba, Curacao, the Netherlands). It regulates transportation within the kingdom with provisions similar to those found in an air transport agreement.

The protocol regulates among other things the grant of rights, designations, tariffs, commercial opportunities and safety and security to name a few. It allows Winair to transport passengers between two other countries if the flights have connections in its home base of St. Maarten.

The protocol is also the tool that allows Winair as a national airline to enter into codeshare/blockspace and wet lease agreements with an airline from a third country provided that the airline hold the appropriate authority.

“I would like to wish Winair the best of luck and safe flying as the airline continues to spread its wings in servicing the people of St. Maarten and our regional neighbors. More airlift options to Caribbean destinations are always welcomed and the fact that we had the opportunity to tag a St. Maarten brand like Winair as a national brand, is always something we can be proud of,” the Minister said.


Money-back guarantee Offered for Visits Interrupted by Hurricane

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN — Hurricane season started Thursday, and the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism is calming the fears of potential visitors with a guarantee for the next six months – June 1 to November 30.

“The government has issued a “Worry Free Hurricane Guarantee” that covers the cost of cancellations and shortened trips due to inclement weather.

“If a potential storm forces a visitor to the Cayman Islands to cancel a trip or to cut short a vacation, the Department of Tourism will cover the costs associated with the inconvenience. As soon as a storm is anticipated, guests are eligible for a full refund at participating hotels, condos and villas island wide with a maximum one-night penalty for cancellations made 48 hours before check-in.

“A wide array of hotels, condos and villas are participating in the Worry Free Hurricane Guarantee and some are offering cancellation up to 24 hours or less ahead of the reserved stay with no penalty,” according to a report out of the Cayman Islands.

Rosa Harris, director of tourism, issued a statement about the Worry Free guarantee.

“Our top priority at the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism is to provide a positive and memorable vacation experience for our guests, one that is unburdened by the stresses of everyday life,” said Ms. Harris.

She added, “Understanding the seasonal considerations that come with the late summer and early fall months, we developed our island wide Worry Free Hurricane Guarantee.

“This guarantee allows travelers to plan their stays in the Cayman Islands with complete peace of mind, ensuring they are covered even in the unlikely event that their trip is cut short due to inclement weather.”



Two students earn BSc. Degree in Business with a major in International Hospitality Management

PHILIPSBURG - On Tuesday May 30, 2017, the Inter-Continental University of the Caribbean (ICUC), held a thesis defence exam for two of its St. Maarten based students in their Bachelor of Science Business program at its sister institution, the SXM Hospitality Educational Institute (SXMHEI).  

The two students are Chantal Herah from Jamaica and Ishaline van Putten from St. Eustatius. Both earned their Bachelor’s degree (BSc.) in business with a major in International Hospitality Management.

In its 8 years of existence, ICUC’s bachelor program in International Hospitality & Tourism Management has hosted over 150 students who experienced its innovative approach to international-career education.

The highly demanded Study Abroad program includes that students spend each year part of the program abroad.

The program can look back with fulfilment on the realization of its international focus with a student mix including students from more than 20 countries and the wide range of international internship placements at places like: Miami, London, Amsterdam, Hawaii, Barcelona, Gran Canaria, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas and St. Maarten.

Mr. Sidney Justiana, Program director of the I.H.T.M at the I.C.U.C. in Curacao, in an invited comment, praised the two graduates who he said he was extremely satisfied with their thesis defence.

Justiana, also commended the SXM Hospitality Educational Institute for mentoring and guiding the students through this very important stage and confirmed that the ICUC will continue its collaboration with the SXMHEI to offer its ACBSP accredited (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs) Bachelor program in International Hospitality Management at the SXMHEI on St. Maarten. 

Ishaline van Putten defended her thesis “Developing St. Eustatius through Cruise Tourism with Small to Medium Cruise Ships” while Chantal Herah defended her thesis “ Employee satisfaction- Identifying the impact of culture on employees’ job satisfaction at the Divi Little Bay Resort”.

Justiana ended his comments by stating that he wished to thank the SXM Hospitality Educational Institute for once again guiding, mentoring and preparing the students as well as for facilitating and hosting the thesis defence.


27-Year Old Suspect Arrested in latest bomb threat

SIMPSON BAY - The Police Department is informing the general public that after a very in-depth investigation into the bomb threat which took place on Saturday May 27th 2017, that a male suspect in this case has been arrested.

On Saturday May 27th at approximately 2.00 p.m. the Central Dispatch received a phone call informing them of a bomb being on a board of one of the “JetBlue” aircrafts on the Princess Juliana International Airport.

Immediately after receiving this call all emergency services such as Airport security, Fire department and other relevant authorities were informed of the ongoing situation. A complete shut down of traffic going to and from the airport area and the diversion of aircrafts coming into Sint Maarten to other neighboring islands immediately went into effect.

The airport building was completely evacuated. A “JetBlue” aircraft on the ground at the time was removed from the main building and taken to secure area where all passengers disembarked and were taken to a secure area for security processing.

The aircraft in question was completely searched by a highly trained search team who gave the “all clear” sign after no explosive device was located. All employees of the airport were allowed back into the building, air traffic into island was again allowed and traffic to and from the airport area was again open.

The suspect in question with initials K.J.C. (27) was arrested without incident and taken to the Philipsburg Police Station where he remains in custody for further investigation.   

The police management team is congratulating the investigating team for a swift and in-depth investigation that lead to the quick identification and arrest of this suspect. It is because of their dedication and professionalism this has been solved. The investigation into this matter continues. (Sint Maarten Police Force)


NIA Students return from France Victorious

GREAT BAY - National Institute of Arts (NIA) students returned victorious after a challenging dance competition in Chalon, France.

The eight competitors, head of dance department Peggy Oulerich and Co-Director of NIA Clara Reyes traveled to France on Wednesday to compete in the Confederation National de Danse competition which featured some 4000-dance artist from around the world.

Team NIA returned triumphant on Sunday May 28th with Gold and Silver Medals as a  testament to their hard work.

The venue, Le Capitol en Champagne a 12,000-square meter performance space was awash with dancers in several categories, ages and disciplines of dance from Ballet to Outré style.

Team NIA who arrived the day before competing, remained steadfast in their pursuit of excellence, delivered their best despite having to battle jet lag and train rides.

The days started at 7:30am and ended at midnight as the individual dance artist were scheduled throughout the long day to compete at different times and on separate performance stages.

After an eventful and packed day, the dancers emerged victorious medaling as follows in choreographies from Peggy Oulerich and Clara Reyes:

First Place; Gold Medal Lian Borsje

Second Place; Silver Medal Zoe van Zadelhoff

A duet from Naomi Warsop and Jeremiah David delivered second place and they were awarded Silver Medal.

Second place and Silver Medal went to a Duet performed by Zaquel Phipps and Ray Angel Simon.

Team Silver Medal went to a group dance featuring Faith Peterson, Kiara Vanterpool, Ray Angel Simon and Naomi Warsop.

“We are excited to know that our collective hard work paid off”. “And we are proud our students and their dedication to their craft.”

This competition was especially poignant as this was the farewell performance competition for two of NIA stellar artists Lian Borsje and Zoë van Zadelhoff, both having been accepted to Dance Schools in the Netherlands and will be leaving this summer.

NIA is exceedingly grateful to the NIA parents who worked tirelessly to help in the fundraising effort and of the community of sponsors who’s support made this trip possible.




PHILIPSBURG - Are government and parliament waiting until the next election comes around or until the next ship jumper presents him or herself in parliament to start working on electoral reform again, Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) Wycliffe Smith asked on Wednesday.

“Any electoral change involving the constitution requires the input and blessing from the kingdom government which includes the governments of the Netherlands, Aruba and Curacao. On the other hand, according to our constitution, amendments to election related ordinances such the Election Ordinance, the National Ordinance Registration and Finances of Political Parties only require “a majority of at least two thirds of the votes cast by the serving members” (art. 129 sub 2).

“In both cases, the progression, from reform-proposals to the final approval by parliament, is a very long and tedious one and would require that government and parliament begin the process immediately if they want these reforms in place before the next election in 2020. We have enough experience to know that initiative laws such as the tourism authority ordinance, the ban on import and the sale of plastic bags and the integrity chamber law can take years before a draft law reaches parliament for final approval.

“Let us take for example electoral reform pertaining to the curtailing of ship jumping. On October 28, 2015, Parliament called an urgent meeting to oust the Gumb’s government, citing that “if the Gumbs cabinet was serious about addressing the matter of “ship-jumping”, efforts to do so would have been evident, which is not the case”.

“A motion of non-confidence was then signed by a majority of eight parliamentarians, among whom were MP’s Sarah Wescot-Williams, William Marlin, and Frans Richardson, who happen now to be the leaders of the current Red, White and Blue coalition government. Hence, one would expect that the matter of ship-jumping would be high on the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) priority list. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

“According to page 30 of governing program, the current UDA government is only concerned about “finalizing the process to enable students abroad to vote and about legislating voting day procedures”. This means that our current government and the majority in parliament are no longer interested in the matter of ship jumping, an issue for which they even threw down the government in 2015.

“It appears that to appease the voters at that time, a Commission for Electoral Reform was established in December 2015 with the task to come up with recommendations and proposals on how to deal with the phenomenon of ship jumping. The Committee issued a public survey after which we, the people, never heard anything more about the survey or from the committee.

“All matters concerning electoral reform were conveyed to the public by the Honorable Prime Minister, William Marlin. It seems as if the phenomenon ship-jumping has now become a non-issue that is until it raises its ugly head again and then our government and parliament will find themselves in a reactive mode once again.

“Perhaps we can learn something from our neighboring island Anguilla that seems to be much more serious, diligent and willing to deal with major electoral reforms. In September 2015 the Government of Anguilla established a combined Constitutional and Electoral Committee to research and come up with proposals for constitutional and electoral reform. On March 31st 2017, eighteen months later, the committee was able to present an extensive reform proposal to the Government.

“I acknowledge that ship-jumping is a universal, parliamentary phenomenon and has been and still is the subject of much research, public discussion and parliamentary debates. Officially, it is called “crossing the floor”, but I really like the Dutch terminology “seat robber”. Being fed up with this phenomenon, the Dutch have attempted to ground seat robbers by amending the parliamentary rules of order.

“In December 2017, the Dutch parliament (second chamber) approved that a seat robber can no longer be considered a faction and as such will not be entitled to the financial benefits and perks that come with being a faction. In addition, the seat robbers’ speaking time in parliament has also been reduced.

“Of course, there were parties in the second chamber that would have liked to impose more drastic measures, but these would have required amending the constitution which would have been a long and drawn out process. Parliamentarians therefore settled for the amendment of the rules of order.

“In order to begin to restrict future ship jumpers, I am of the opinion that our parliament could start by amending article 19 of the Rules of Order for the Parliament of Sint Maarten. The amendment would restrict a ship jumper from becoming a full-fledged faction.

“This means that a ship-jumper would not be rewarded with a faction office, equipment and faction-support staff. He or she would also not be able to participate in the Assembly of Seniors. In other words, the ship-jumper can remain an independent member of parliament but will not be able to claim any of the rights pertaining to a faction. Are our parliamentarians willing and ready to review article 19 and subsequent articles of the Rules of Order and strip ship jumpers from their right to become a faction?” Wycliffe Smith, Leader of the Sint Maarten Christian Party said in a press statement on Wednesday.


Coastguard detains 51 undocumented persons

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - Early Tuesday morning May 30th, the Dutch Caribbean Coastguard (DCCG) in cooperation with the Police Corps Curaçao, detained fifty-one (51) undocumented persons near the island of Curaçao. Two go-fasts vessels were also intercepted.

Early Tuesday morning around midnight, the Dash-8 maritime patrol aircraft of the Coastguard detected two suspicious vessels south east of Curaçao. One of them was going in the southern direction, according to DCCG.

Two Super-RHIB’s from the Coastguard were immediately deployed together with a helicopter. A Coastguard land patrol together with the Police Corps was also directed to the area known as Fuik where they started a search.

During this search, 19 people (nine women and 10 men) were found. They were presumably dropped off by one of the two vessels. All of them had the Venezuelan nationality and they were transferred to the Police pending deportation, DCCG stated.

The two Super-RHIB’s intercepted the two vessels on the water. One of them that was south of Caracasbaai, the DCCG discovered thirty (30) people onboard, and on the other one that was south of Fuik, two people were found on-board.

Both vessels were brought to the Coastguard pier in Parera. All of the people, fourteen (14) women and eighteen (18) men, with the Venezuelan nationality, were turned over to the Police. The case is under investigation.

coast guard inside tue


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