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Soualiga News II (5115)

Special Envoy Rijna visits Saba

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - Edison Rijna visited Saba on Monday, May 29 in his new role as Special Envoy for the Caribbean Netherlands for the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) funds and economic development with Latin America and the Caribbean and economic development. Rijna served nine years as Island Governor of Bonaire when he assumed his new role in April this year.

With his appointment as special envoy, he will work on better access to funds from the EU and the UN for the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius). To this end, he will maintain contacts with the European Commission in Brussels and the region and UN-affiliated organizations relevant to the Caribbean Netherlands and identify promising projects.

 In addition, as Special Envoy for Economic Relations with Latin America, he will lead inbound and outbound economic missions to and from surrounding Central and South American countries. The aim of these missions is to provide companies and other parties from the three Caribbean Netherlands islands with better access to surrounding markets and to interest companies and parties from surrounding countries in investing in and trading with the islands of the Caribbean Netherlands. A larger trade and investment volume contributes to the strengthening of the island economies.

Rijna and his advisor Bianca Peters visited Saba to explain the new rol and to prepare future collaboration. They see opportunities in EU’s Green Deal, Global Gateways and in the Social Domain. For Saba investments in nature and environment, renewable energy, renovation of the airport could be interesting cases. The processes to apply for EU funding are sometimes difficult and it is hard to know for individual islands when subsidies or funds might apply. With help of the special envoy, this might be improved. It is notable that the French islands in the Caribbean have been able to find substantial EU funding last few years.

Rijna’s working visit to Saba started with a meeting with Island Governor Jonathan Johnson and Acting Island Secretary Henk de Jong, followed by a meeting with the Island Council. He further met with management of the Saba Electric Company (SEC) and the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), both of which work with EU-funded projects. Rijna also visited the Botanical Garden.

The special envoy will present his exacts plan in July 2023 and aims to station one of his staff members permanently on Saba. This is especially helpful because not only the Public Entity Saba can apply for funding, but also citizens, NGO’s and businesses. More information will be shared later. Rijna will visit the three Caribbean Netherlands islands, will have meetings in Brussels and The Hague and will go to UN agencies in New York before he presents his plans.

Visit Rijna with SECManagement of the Saba Electric Compay (SEC) with Special Envoy Edison Rijna (center) and advisor Bianca Peters (second from left).

Visit Rijna with Jonathan and HenkSpecial Envoy Edison Rijna and advisor Bianca Peters (left) with Island Governor Jonathan Johnson (second from right) and Acin Island Secretary Henk de Jong.


Reps of Trust Fund Program Management Mission to Sint Maarten Meets with COM

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – Toyin Jagha, Program Manager of the Sint Maarten Trust Fund Program of the Caribbean Country Management Unit, accompanied by the Director of the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB), Claret Connor, and delegation members Staciann Cunningham and Carla Bridglal, met with the Council of Ministers (COM) on Thursday, May 25, 2023, as part of the Trust Fund Program Management Mission to Sint Maarten.

During the meeting with the COM, the Trust Fund Projects' significant achievements were recognized, which includes the Enterprise Support Project (ESP), the Income Support and Training Project (ISTP), and the increased funding for both the Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) and the Emergency Recovery Project (ERP-1).

The World Bank is also preparing to conclude the approval process for three additional significant projects for Sint Maarten. These pertain to wastewater, housing, and mental health.

Jagha stated that Sint Maarten is the first country to have a mental health project approved; formalization will take place by the end of the second quarter while the wastewater project is expected towards the end of the year and housing for the first quarter of 2024.

Furthermore, the COM was informed of new communication areas and channels which will emphasize the benefits of the Trust Fund for Sint Maarten's inhabitants and enterprises, as well as the experiences of project leaders throughout the process.  

By the end of June 2023, the World Bank will officially open their office in Sint Maarten, which will facilitate decision making and communication between Government, and by extension the NRPB, and the World Bank, while also strengthening Sint Maarten’s position within the region as a hub.

Only Haiti, Guyana, and Jamaica have regional offices.

The mission, which started from May 15 concludes on May 26, 2023, includes meetings with numerous stakeholders and partners to develop and strengthen communication and networks.

Sint Maarten has the second largest portfolio after Haiti and is the first country to execute an agreement without being a member of the World Bank Group.

The COM Ministers thanked the Program Manager for the positive updates and looks forward to continuing strengthening collaboration with the World Bank in the best interest of Sint Maarten.

WB.Trust Fund meeting




Top travel media visits Saba

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - Saba recently hosted top travel media from the Netherlands and the United States. Creating more awareness and presence about Saba’s product in the North American and Dutch markets remains a priority. The public relations firms have been pitching Saba to top travel media, which also includes selecting and organizing press trips to the island.

Director of Tourism Malinda Hassell stated, “We continue to work on Saba’s exposure to key audiences and source markets, Saba is a niche destination, and together with the public relations firms, Saba continues to be pitched to travel media. Having press and fam trips organized to the island helps the journalists and trade partners experience the island personally in order to pitch stories and expose the island leading to international media coverage.”

Dutch and US Press trip

Together with the marketing firm USP, a Dutch press trip was organized as part of an island-hopping experience as journalists visited the island for one night. They represented Vrouw (High-end women's lifestyle), and Naturescanner (Outdoor & Nature travel platform). Pien laat haar eten zien (One of the Netherlands’ biggest culinary influencers), together with a representative of the firm.

Saba also hosted a US press trip from May 19-22, 2023. The journalists were from: Travel Weekly, Forbes, Matador Network, TripSavvy & a freelancer pitching to Go Nomad, Thrillist, and Paste Magazine. The journalists visited together with representatives of Diamond PR and had a wonderful experience and were very impressed, said Hassell.

The activities the journalists had the opportunity to experience included diving, snorkling with Sea Saba, hiking with the Saba Conservation Foundation, arts & crafts workshop with Jo Beans & Marie de Saba, dining around, village walking tour, island tour, visiting the marine lab, and getting to know the projects and events of the Sea & Learn Foundation.

Highlights and milestones

“For 2023 Saba has been featured in 28 top travel media publications in the US and Canada which include Travel & Leisure,, Caribbean Journal, Toronto Star, Fox News, The Social TV,, and Scuba Diving Magazine. In the Dutch market, Saba had national coverage in the Telegraaf Vrij, other publications included Plus Magazine, Next Travel Magazine, Nature Scanner, and Reiz Bizz. As the island receives more exposure, we look forward to attracting and creating more booking leads to the island,” said Hassell.


“We thank our partners for their collaboration and WINAIR for their partnership with these press trips. The inter-regional collaborations and partnerships are of utmost importance for Saba as we continue to work closely with our counterparts. Collaborating on future press and fam trips and fortifying the region as a preferred island-hopping destination is something we see trending among trade partners,” concluded Hassell.

Photo 2 Top travel media visit

Photo 3 Top travel media visit





World Day of Play: parent and child play together at Cove Bay

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - UNICEF Netherlands asks the communities of Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba to pay attention to the World Day of Play on Sunday, May 28. Playing with children is an important basis for the development of every child. On Saba, children's rights organization UNICEF is joining forces with the Child Focus Foundation. With a 'Family and Community Fun Day' at Cove Bay, children are encouraged to spend time together with their parents/caretakers to participate in various activities.

‘Family and Community Fun Day’  
The ‘Family and Community Fun Day’ starts at Cove Bay at 10 am until 1 pm and offers a physical, creative and educational program for children aged 4-12. Parents and children are invited to join. Posters and flyers have been distributed on Saba and information can be found on the Facebook channels of UNICEF Dutch Caribbean and Child Focus.

“We see the World Day of Play as a great opportunity to spend quality time as a family in a playful way. The community day gives parents and children the opportunity to play together in, among other things, a bouncy castle and making happy stones,” said Suzanne Guido-Peterson, Assistant Project Leader at Child Focus.  

Development of a child
Playing together at a young age can lead to more self-confidence later and allows children to develop their talents. Schools, associations and church communities can also participate in addition to parents, caretakers and relatives and contribute to the World Day of Play. This can be done, for example, by creating fun activities and actions for the children in the classroom, or that they can do at home or in a group. The more attention, the more playtime and having fun.

The World Day of Play is established in collaboration with the Public Entities of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba and is part of UNICEF's BES program made possible by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. On Saba, this year there is collaboration with Child Focus Foundation.


Boards of financial supervision visit the Netherlands

SINT MAARTEN/THE HAGUE (The Netherlands) - From May 22nd to 24th, 2023, the Boards of financial supervision paid a working visit to the Netherlands. There they spoke with the State Secretary of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the State Secretary of Finance, members of the First and Second Chamber, the Plenipotentiary Ministers, the Court of Audit and the Council of State. During the meetings they talked about a multi-annual path towards sustainable public finances and the corresponding main priorities in the Caribbean countries and public entities.

After years of crisis, Curaçao, Aruba and Sint Maarten are focusing on recovery. According to the Boards, it is thereby important that the debt level be decreased, and the investment level be increased. To this effect starting 2024 the budgets will need surpluses. Curaçao recently achieved good results in increasing its tax revenues.

For Aruba and Sint Maarten there is still great potential in this area. This requires reforms and decisive efforts to increase compliance in the short term. Controlling expenses also remains as important as ever for all three countries. Investments that strengthen the economy will help with the recovery. Therefore, the Boards recommend to introduce multi-year investment agendas. Another key priority is to make the social funds sustainable. Without reforms, in the future they will prove unaffordable.

For the public entities of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba more specific priorities are applicable. Financial management remains a point of attention for all islands. For Saba this lies in securing its current level and for Bonaire and Sint Eustatius in the progress that is being made.

The challenges in the area of public finances in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom, and thus the importance of financial supervision, are still as great as ever. By setting priorities and strengthening the relationships, the Boards hope to be able to contribute again in the coming period to the achievement of sustainably healthy public finances.

Chairperson Lidewijde Ongering and the members look back on a successful trip. The Boards visit the Netherlands once every two years. The visit took place for the first time under the chairmanship of Lidewijde Ongering. Besides the Chairperson, the Boards consist of the member upon proposal of the Netherlands Hans Hoogervorst, the member upon proposal of Aruba Hellen van der Wal, the member upon proposal of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Glenn Thodé, the member upon proposal of Sint Maarten Julisa Frans and the member upon proposal of Curaçao Gregory Damoen.


Results of Media survey Caribbean Netherlands presented

SABA/SINT EUSTATIUS - The Rijksdienst Caribisch Nederland (RCN) uses many channels to communicate with various target groups in the Caribbean Netherlands.

The media landscape is developing quickly, which is why RCN asks an independent research agency to conduct a media survey every two years.

The aim of the survey is to gain an insight into the media use of Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba inhabitants, so that communication resources can be adapted accordingly.

The main question to be addressed by the survey was: How do inhabitants of the Caribbean Netherlands use the media, and how are the messages of RCN received?

It was examined if the channels that are currently used allow us to reach inhabitants and, which media channels and resources they use to inform themselves. It was also investigated why residents use these channels in particular, at what times and how often certain channels are watched or listened to.

With the information from the surveys and the group interviews, RCN can ensure that the messages of the various government departments reach as many residents as possible, that the message is clear and that the various communications are appealing.

The main findings of the survey were presented to the media this week during a meeting organised by RCN's communication department on Bonaire.

During the presentation it was shown that, on Bonaire, 94% of the inhabitants can be reached via social media (including also WhatsApp), 77% via the radio, 74% via news websites and 57% via newspapers.

On Saba, 87% of the inhabitants can be reached via social media, 77% via news websites and 57% via newspapers. Only 40% sometimes listens to the radio.

On St. Eustatius, 98% of the inhabitants can be reached via social media, 67% via the radio, 64% via news websites and 57% via newspapers.


Nordic ski scout team explores Saba's potential as destination for skiing events

SABA (THE BOTTOM) - Saba recently had the privilege of hosting a visit from a Nordic ski scout team from the United States. The team consisted of Tracy Cote, the long-time Colby College Nordic Ski team coach; Patrick Cote, a US Ski Team certified course designer; Silas Eastman, the chief trail groomer and course manager in Jackson, New Hampshire, home of the largest Nordic skiing trail network in the region New England; and Deanna Eastman, a member of Jackson’s ski patrol and emergency response team.

The Nordic ski scout team set out on an adventure that ended up blending the beauty of skiing with the joy of hiking. Saba's roads and the attractive hiking trail system provided a remarkable opportunity for the team to combine the two activities seamlessly. They were delighted by the idea of skiing and then hiking, making the most of the island's natural terrain.

During their stay, the team took on the challenge of assembling four exhilarating uphill climbs. The roads proved to be a great match for their training and allowed them to push their limits while taking in the beautiful views that Saba has to offer. The team’s coordinator Chris Fauske stated, “the smoothness of the concrete road surface presented fewer challenges than the team anticipated and offered the opportunity for extensive ‘classic’ technique skiing.”

The island's warm hospitality, coupled with its stunning natural surroundings, left a lasting impression on the team members. As a result, the team is engaged in discussions to consider the island for future ski events.

As the Nordic ski team concluded their journey to Saba, they left with a deeper understanding of the island's potential. The team recognizes the untapped opportunity that Saba presents, and they are excited about the prospect of introducing the world of skiing to the Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean.

This visit further strengthens Saba's reputation as a destination that embraces exciting outdoor adventures. The Public Entity Saba anticipates future collaborations with ski enthusiasts and is committed to highlighting Saba's distinctive charm on a global scale.


ODM: Be Prepared! Time to Check/Restock Your Disaster Supply Kit

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Colorado State University (CSU) Department of Atmospheric Science said early April in its extended range forecast is predicting 13 named storms of which six to become hurricanes and two to reach major hurricane strength (Saffir/Simpson category 3-4-5) with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater.

The Office of Disaster Management (ODM) which falls under the Fire Department (Ministry of General Affairs) headed by Fire Chief/Disaster Coordinator Clive Richardson, appeals to all residents and businesses to plan ahead and let’s ‘Be Prepared’ for the 2023 Atlantic hurricane season which opens on Thursday, June 1 and runs through November 30.

ODM calls on residents to review the content of their Disaster Kit and to start restocking it with the essentials that are necessary to ride out the hurricane season.

Every household’s Disaster Kit should be able to support members of the household for a minimum of seven days after the hurricane has passed.

The Disaster Kit should contain non-perishable food, water and medicine (fill prescriptions before the storm); non-electric can opener; first-aid kit; extra cash (ATM machines and credit cards won’t work if there is no electricity); a battery powered radio and flashlights as well as extra batteries; make sure cell phones are all charged prior to the arrival of the hurricane; fill up your car/truck with gas; check if your home and automobile insurance are up to date; put ID cards, passports and driver’s license, insurance papers in a waterproof bag along with other important documents.

If you are a parent with an infant or young child (ren), you also need to have essential items as part of your disaster supply kit: baby formula; diapers; bottles; powdered milk; medications; moist towels; and diaper rash ointment.

Your Disaster Kit must also include hand sanitizer, a soap bar or liquid soap; two cloth face coverings for each person; disinfecting wipes, or general household cleaning supplies to disinfect surfaces.

Now is the time to trim back tree branches from your home; cut all dead or weak branches on any trees on your property; clean-up your yard and put away items that could blow away during the passing of a hurricane; check your roof and storm shutters to make sure they are secure, and the latter are working.

For those whose homes are not yet storm/hurricane ready, you should make alternative housing arrangements to stay at family or friends.

The community is urged to learn more about hurricane hazards and how to prepare for a storm/hurricane strike by visiting the Government website: where you will be able to download your “Hurricane Season Readiness Guide’ and “Hurricane Tracking Chart.”

Listen to the Government Radio station – SXMGOV 107.9FM - for official information and news before, during and after a hurricane.

For official weather-related information, check out the website of the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten (MDS): or visit their social media page

Remember, it only takes one hurricane to make it a bad season. Be prepared!


21st annual St. Martin Book Fair postponed

SINT MARTIN (MARIGOT/GREAT BAY) - The 21st annual St. Martin Book Fair has been postponed for reasons related to the health of the lit fest coordinator Shujah Reiph, said the Book Fair Committee (BFC) on Monday.

The Conscious Lyrics Foundation (CLF) also issued a statement over the weekend. “The new date to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the festival in 2023 will be announced soon,” said CLF, the lead organization of the island-wide literary festival.

“In supporting Shujah’s recovery process we are working with our community partners to continue to plan for the best book fair yet,” said CLF.

The lit fest, with the theme of “resistance,” was already promoting the 2023 edition scheduled for June 1 – 3.

BFC said that 35 authors and workshop leaders from St. Martin, throughout the Caribbean, the USA, and Asia were set to participate in the book fair that was once described in Trinidad’s Caribbean Beat as “international and multilingual to the core.”

“I have to say again that I’m so touched by the many well-wishers since my health emergency early last week; and for the words of condolences at the passing of my father Arsene Reiph last Friday,” said Shujah Reiph, who is also president of CLF.

The pre-book fair play, Spitfire: The Lohkay Story, written by Shujah Reiph and directed by Fabian Adekunle Badejo, has also been postponed. Persons with tickets for the play, which was scheduled to premiere at Loterie Farm on May 31, are urged to hold on to their tickets as they will be honored for the new show date, said CLF.

The BFC also plans to be involved with pre-book fair activities such as a writers retreat, book launch, and “authors’ talk” on radio—all leading up to the new date that is to be set for the St. Martin Book Fair 2023.

In its weekend statement CLF thanked “the people of St. Martin” for their “understanding” and “for the continued support of our cultural and educational activities and events throughout the year.”

Both CLF and BFC are asking the public to “Kindly look out for further updates; and enjoy previous lit fest features @ .”


Executive Council in the Netherlands

SABA/THE HAGUE—The Executive Council started its working visit to the Netherlands on Monday, May 23. The delegation will meet with various ministries, members of Dutch Parliament and several organizations.

The Saba delegation consists of Island Governor Jonathan Johnson, Commissioners Bruce Zagers and Eviton Heyliger, Head of Finance Maureen Hassell-van der Kaap, Senior Policy Advisor Nicole Johnson, Head of the Planning Bureau Zoubeir Elatmani, Program Manager Nature and Environment Policy Plan Sarah van der Horn and Project Manager of Black Rocks Harbor Project Mario Prak.

The delegation attends the meetings in various compositions, depending on the type and subject of the meetings. For Commissioner Heyliger, this is his first official work visit to the Netherlands since his appointment.

On Monday, May 22, the delegation presented two important projects. At the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations (BZK) the project to expand the existing Administration Building was presented, while the presentation of the school building project took place at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW).

Commissioners Zagers and Heyliger on Monday paid a visit to Member of the Second Chamber Attje Kuiken of the Labor Party (PvdA) to talk about the various developments and challenges that Saba faces. Also present at that meeting was Member of the First Chamber Jeroen Recourt of the PvdA party.

For the remainder of the week, the delegation has meetings at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (SZW), the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK), the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (IenW), the Ministry of Public Health, Wellbeing and Sport (VWS), the Ministry of BZK, the Ministry of OCW, Bazalt Wonen and the Cadaster.

Important topics to be discussed in The Hague include healthcare, education, culture, the Black Rocks harbor project, social security, poverty alleviation, energy, telecom, housing, land registry, water, agriculture, connectivity, spatial planning and waste management.

Next week Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the delegation will pay a visit to education organization Yuverta in Houten and the World Horti Center in Naaldwijk. There will also be separate meetings with State Secretary for Kingdom Relations and Digitization Alexandra van Huffelen and Minister for Poverty, Participation and Pensions Carola Schouten. The delegation returns to Saba on Friday, June 2.

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