Soualiga News Today

Soualiga News Today (3354)

SXM’s King Yen Taekwondo School aiming for gold in Puerto Rico Tournament

SINT MAARTEN/PUERTO RICO - King Yen Taekwondo School Grand Master, Theo Liu, and 12 athletes from St. Maarten are in Puerto Rico this weekend to compete against a host of Taekwondo schools from around the region.

In Puerto Rico the athletes will be competing in sparring and forms as they participate in the 25th Puerto Rico International Taekwondo Open Championship.

All the athletes said they are very excited about their trip and all are very proud to be representing St. Maarten against serious competition from Aruba, Barbados, Curacao, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Martinique, Mexico, St. Croix, St. Thomas, Surinam, USA, US. Virgin Islands, Venezuela and host Puerto Rico.

The Grand Master and his team are joined by three parents and several coaches, all of whom are confident the St. Maarten delegation will be bringing home some well-won gold medals from several rounds of competition.

This is the first time since Hurricane Irma struck St. Maarten and neighbouring islands, that the local-based Taekwondo School has ventured out to competition abroad, and according to the Grand Master, Liu, his students are once again ready to take on other schools and re-establish their strength in the sport before Hurricane Irma came calling.

“I want everyone to know that we are fully in support of this weekend’s tournament which has been promoted as a solidarity event to bring islands affected by Hurricane Irma back together to bring attention back to our sport,” said the Grand Master.

“It is very important for the King Yen Taekwondo School to show that despite what was caused by Hurricane Irma, we can keep St. Maarten youngsters and adult’s interest in the sport at all levels, including the level of international competition,” continued the Grand Master shortly before leaving the island with his team, parents and coaches, Friday afternoon.


SFC concludes successful working visit after visiting social, elderly, youth care projects

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The ‘Samenwerkende Fondsen Cariben or SFC’ (Cooperating Foundations for the Dutch Caribbean) office on Sint Maarten, which caters to the islands of Sint Maarten, Saba and Statia with providing funding opportunities for social endeavours, received a working visit from representatives of the ‘Samenwerkende Fondsen Netherlands’.

‘Samenwerkende Fondsen’ was set up over 14 years ago, as a collaborative effort to support social initiatives on the Dutch Caribbean islands, regardless of their status within the Kingdom.

It is an organization that is facilitated by six funding agencies, originating from the Netherlands; Fonds Sluyterman van Loo, Innovatiefonds Zorgverzekeraars, Kansfonds, Oranje Fonds, Stichting Kinderpostzegels, and the newly joined Roomsch Catholijk Oude Armen Kantoor (RCOAK).

The SFC assists NGOs financially within the field of social welfare and care, also catering to projects with a special focus on vulnerable groups such as the elderly and youth.

During this working visit, organizations that have shown interest or have submitted applications for funding, as well as projects that are ongoing were visited. Organisations that have had projects in the past or have been the recipients of Irma relief funding, which was granted in December, were also visited.

Such visits are of importance for the representatives to get a feel for the needs on the islands as well as knowing hands-on how projects funded through them are making a difference.

The delegation also hosted a successful information session, at the Senior Citizen Recreational Center in Hope Estate, whereby over 40 persons attended. All showing interest in the opportunities SFC may have to offer.

The working visit continued on Curacao where all SFC representatives met to discuss the policy plan for the coming years, as well as the specific needs of all the Dutch Caribbean islands, and how best to cater to these needs.

All Dutch Caribbean islands have a local office and a local project coordinator and are there to assist with funding applications and inquiries. These offices provide general support to social endeavours in need of funding.

Persons who missed this opportunity can call on the local Project Coordinator, Fleur Hermanides, for more information on possible financial assistance for social projects. For more information organisations can visit:, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +1721-586 08 08.

A downloadable funding application form can be found on the website, and appointments can be made via the abovementioned contact information.

CUTLINE: Information Session being led by Maayke Botman, Oranje Fonds Project Coordinator / SFC NL, March 12th, 2018.

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Governor Holiday requests Theo Heyliger to form the next government

SINT MAARTEN (HARBOUR VIEW) – On March 16, 2018, the Governor of Sint Maarten, His Excellency drs. E.B. Holiday, requested Theo Heyliger to form a government as formateur.

The Governor met on March 12 and 13, 2018 with the leaders of the political parties that are elected into Parliament, (the United Democrats, the National Alliance, the United St. Maarten Peoples Party and the Sint Maarten Christian Party).

During these meetings the Governor consulted the party leaders about the advice given by the informateurs Dr. R.D.A. Arduin and J.J. Beaujon. The Governor emphasized the importance of unity and working together in the interest of the people of Sint Maarten. The formateur was requested to use the report of the informateurs as the basis for the further formation process.

Based on the consultations the Governor requested Theo Heyliger to form a government supported by as broad a majority in Parliament as possible to foster political stability.

A government that consists of ministers who are committed to the promotion of the well-being of the people of Sint Maarten and who are dedicated to the reconstruction of our country.

In addition, the Governor requested the formateur to form a government that will commit itself to a governing program focused on a sustainable social, economic and financial reconstruction of Sint Maarten, with an emphasis on the critical infrastructure, the tourist sector, the social infrastructure, law enforcement and the public finances.

With regard to the governing program specific attention was also asked for cooperation with the Netherlands, the World Bank and the social and economic partners, for the need to take the urgent steps to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season and for measures to find a sustainable solution for the landfill and waste management on Sint Maarten.

The formateur was asked to present a governing program with his final report.

The Governor further emphasized the importance of the strict observance of the regulatory requirements including the screening criteria, applicable to the appointment for candidate-ministers.

The formateur took the commission into consideration and will inform the Governor regularly during the formation process. The Governor requested Theo Heyliger to present him the final report of the formation process as soon as possible.


Minister of Tourism De Weever welcomes news of Copa Airlines return

POND ISLAND – Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Cornelius de Weever, welcomes the news that Copa Airlines will be returning with weekly flights in June.

“This is a significant development. Copa Airlines is a strategic partner where airlift is concerned from Latin America. The airline is the Hub of the Americas in Panama which offers the most direct way to connect to the Americas, while SXM Airport is the hub for the North Eastern Caribbean. The return of Copa Airlines will also benefit Sint Maarten patients who need to travel to Colombia for medical care.

“This mix fits into the strategic hub strategy in the form of an Air Service Recovery approach of SXM Airport which has been a primary focus post-Irma by airport management with meetings with being held with destination hub partners/stakeholders over the past months.

“On March 22, interCaribbean Airways commences with a new nonstop schedule service to several islands in the Eastern Caribbean with one stop easy connections via Tortola to Sint Maarten. This is additional airlift to the destination which benefits travelers.

“These developments are positive signs that things are moving in the right direction and our country will be back better than ever,” Minister Cornelius de Weever said on Thursday.

St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) representatives attended the ANATO Tradeshow in Bogota, Columbia. This show is one of the largest tourism tradeshows in South America.

STB met with Copa Airlines management officials and the airline confirmed to resume flights as of June 2 with two flights per week and increase this to four over time.

Copa Airlines was founded in 1947 as the National Airline of Panama. Copa marked seven decades of continuous growth and progress last year where today it is one of the leading airlines in the Americas.



SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Toyota Del Peru has held a Hurricane Irma donation drive among their employees with the result of raising USD 10.000 which has been sent to Real Auto St. Maarten, the exclusive Toyota distributor for St. Maarten.

Real Auto’s General Manager, Felix Nevarez, stated “we cannot be more grateful for the heartwarming support we have received from our Toyota colleagues. Some of our staff members have been hit really hard by Hurricane Irma but still came to work and helped clean up and get us operational again”, he continued. “This has been recognized by Toyota and we are happy to give them some extra relief”, Nevarez concluded.

Toyota has been offering relief and support ever since the passing of Hurricane Irma in September. This support coordinated by Mr. Steve St. Angelo, CEO of the Toyota Motor Corporation’s Latin American and Caribbean Division, included an emergency supply of vehicles from Toyota Argentina as well as additional support via the regional Toyota office located in Miami.


Glen Carty to receive the Outstanding Achievement Award from National Hurricane Center

SINT MAARTEN (MADAME ESTATE) - During this year’s National Hurricane Conference that will be held from March 26th until the 29th in Orlando Florida, Glen Carty will be receiving an outstanding achievement award from the National Hurricane Center.

This award is being granted to Glen Carty in recognition of his outstanding and dedicated work before, during and after Hurricane Irma devastated the island of St Maarten and its neighbours on September 6, 2017, and, who’s information and voice of reason together with his team was heard the world over.

The national hurricane conference is a yearly event. The primary goal of the National Hurricane Conference is to improve hurricane preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation in order to save lives and property in the United States and the tropical islands of the Caribbean and Pacific.

In addition, the conference serves as a national forum for federal, state and local officials to exchange ideas and recommend new policies to improve Emergency Management.

Glen Carty is co-shareholder of Philipsburg Broadcasting Network that consists of four radio stations, Laser 101, Oasis 96.3, Mix 94.7 and Tropixx 105.5. Carty formed the Laser 101 Storm Watch Team after the passing of hurricane Luis in 1995.

Laser 101 played a tremendous role before, during and after hurricane Luis together with the staff of all radio stations on the island whereby 101.1 was “dubbed“ the Emergency Radio Station.

St. Maarten's Laser 101 was then also honored with a special NAB International Broadcasting Award for Exceptional Public Service following the devastation inflicted by Hurricanes Luis and Marilyn.

"Laser 101's performance under the most adversarial conditions provided an extremely valuable public service to the residents of St. Maarten. Their experience reminds us all of the vital role broadcasters serve during times of crises," remarked former NAB President and CEO Eddie Fritts in 1996 Laser 101 has become known both locally and internationally for its broadcasting of weather and general information during all hurricanes that have affected St. Maarten and the surrounding neighboring islands.


A Record High 27.2 Million Passengers to Cruise in 2018

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Based on discussions at the recently concluded Seatrade Cruise Global Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Port St. Maarten Management discussed the industry outlook along with the forecasting for St. Maarten specifically.

“Though in its infancy stage, the cruise industry will see approximately 27.2 million passengers cruise in 2018 globally. Port St. Maarten will play a pivotal role in the overall Eastern Caribbean offering great experiences post hurricane Irma.

“Demand for cruising in general increased by 20+ per cent over the last five years whereas the Caribbean as a region remained relatively stagnant in terms of market share.

“Key partners within the Eastern Caribbean region will be meeting in the near future to strategize on luring more passengers to the Islands damaged by the last hurricanes, once again demonstrating the Caribbean is open in line with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) multimillion dollar industry campaign.

“Both marque ports in the Eastern hemisphere namely St. Maarten and Puerto Rico topped the highest expenditure ranks with the last BREA (Business Research Economic Advisors) study for $191.26 per passenger and highest crew expenditure of $149.66,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Tuesday. 

Port St. Maarten management during the leading annual global business-to-business event for the cruise industry last week, spoke with the representative from the BREA study and discussed the updated BREA report which will be released later this year.

BREA anticipates a more compressed number across the region because of the 2017 hurricanes that damaged a number of cruise destinations in the North Eastern Caribbean.

Port management pointed out that as a destination, “We must preserve our image of being a friendly and welcoming Island having passengers shop at ease with the leisure to go into shops of their choice unhindered. The approach of aggressive sales tactics by individuals on the island will hamper the reviews online which in turn may lead to lower demand for the destination and the stores. 

“We are a rebounding Island and Port St. Maarten has assured the cruise industry that the destination is building back better with more emphasis on the ‘Top Cruise Trends for the Coming Years. One of the top three trends identified by FCCA are All Budgets Will Cruise.  The 2018 Cruise Travel Report found that while cruising does skew a bit more to the affluent consumer than other types of vacations, almost all levels of income enjoy cruise vacations.

“The second trend is, Transformational Cruise Travel.  This has been described as the next evolution of experimental travel that sees travelers taking a step further and seeking ‘transformational experiences,’ from cultural immersion and voluntourism to extreme adventures.

“The third top trend is Sustainability at Sea.  In the coming year there will be an even greater focus on sustainable tourism, with travelers participating in practices from recycling to voluntourism both on board and on land. 

“As a destination we have to take the aforementioned into consideration and look at developing and offering niches in those travel trends in order to be able to continue to meet the demands of the cruise traveler,” Port St. Maarten Management concluded on Tuesday.

Seatrade Cruise Global was held at the Broward County Convention Center from March 5-8. Seatrade Cruise Global was held in partnership with Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the FCCA.

Local stakeholders that were part of the Port St. Maarten delegation were the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry, SXM Airport, and the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.

Seatrade Cruise Global also brought together buyers and suppliers for the four-day conference and three-day exhibition.  The conference in 2017 saw more than 11,000 registered attendees, over 700 exhibiting companies from 113 countries and more than 300 international journalists. 

Experts, leaders and thought-makers of the cruise industry from the world’s largest cruise companies were the highlight of the conference.  


ORANGE ALERT: Issued for Kick em’ Jenny Volcano especially ships

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN - An Orange alert has been issued for the Kick Em Jenny Volcano in Grenada due to heightened activity.

Grenada’s National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) through the technical support provided by the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center in Port-of Spain, Trinidad, issued an advisory on Tuesday indicating that the alert level has been raised from Yellow to Orange.

The statement said that with this increase in the alert level, ships and other marine operators are asked to observe the exclusion zone of 5 km/3.1miles.

Increased monitoring will be taking place.

Kick 'em Jenny is a submarine volcano located 8km north of Grenada (12.18°N, 61.38°W). The volcano is about 1300m high and 300m wide at its summit, which is currently thought to be about 180m below the surface of the sea.

The SRC says, as far as we know, Kick 'em Jenny is the only 'live' (likely to erupt again) submarine volcano in the Eastern Caribbean. It is also the most frequently active volcano in the region, erupting at least 13 times since it was discovered in 1939.



Sint Maarten and Curacao discuss cooperation on Disaster Management within Kingdom

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - On Friday March 9th, Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin and Prime Minister of Curacao Eugene Rhuggenaath were given a presentation by Leslie Fer the Disaster Management Coordinator of Curacao. The basis of the presentation was an evaluation report of Hurricane Irma.

Mr. Fer highlighted critical areas of concerns and made recommendations for the future. As a result of the presentation Sint Maarten will begin plans to host a disaster coordinator conference where all islands and if possible including the BES will be invited to take part in the discussions with the end result of developing a Kingdom Disaster Management Plan, setting up of a Caribbean disaster management team, defining Article 36 of the statuut, the usage of Aruba or Curacao as a hub during a disaster or crisis and the financial responsibilities resulting from a disaster.

Both Prime Ministers agreed for the need to learn from the mistakes post Hurricane Irma and pledged not only to improve but to build on the existing cooperation.

Having quick responses, effective operations, clear chain of commands, were some of the words that dominated the meeting as the priority during a disaster is to save lives.


Tzu Chi donates food items to 70 families in need

SINT MAARTEN (ST. PETERS) - The St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation continued its efforts to assist persons in the community still suffering in the aftermath of the devastating hurricane Irma on Sunday, March 4, 2018 when it donated a number of basic food items to 70 persons from the St. Peters Kingdom Life Ministry Church.    

This was the Foundation’s tenth “three goods” relief effort. The “three goods” relief effort is significant in that it encourages recipients and the public to “think, speak and do good” in all that they do, a principle also followed by the Foundation’s volunteers. 

Tzu Chi said a half year after the devastation of hurricane Irma, many people are still experiencing its impact due to the closure of various businesses, causing limited or no income at all for many. 

With this in mind, Tzu Chi decided to continue its three-goods relief programme. 

During the food relief, a total of 84 Wesson Oil (24oz); 100 boxes of pasta; 70, 5lb bags of wheat flour; 70, 5lb bags of white flour; 80, 5lb bags of rice; 144 bottles of grape juice and 84 bottles of water (1.5 liter) were donated amongst the 70 recipients.  

In introductory remarks at the event, Tzu Chi Commissioners Sandra Cheung and Yamile Bastidas spoke about Tzu Chi, while a sister from the church translated their presentation in Patois.  

Cheung and Bastidas said Tzu Chi’s main office in Taiwan made the donations possible and even though many people in St. Maarten are still struggling, they said persons can still show their love by being sympathetic with the victims of Taiwan's most recent earthquake by lovingly donating some change in the Foundation’s bamboo-bank to assist.  

The three goods relief-distribution was conducted in an orderly manner due to the extremely good preparation prior to the event. Relief-goods were gratefully accepted and recipients were encouraged to think, speak and do good, while they were given an opportunity to give their love in support to the Taiwanese earthquake survivors. 

St. Peters Kingdom Life Ministry Church Pastor Thevalys Lazare said the church is extremely happy that the St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation thought about the church and its members who are hurting at this time. “The way we were hit by the hurricane and to have someone thinking about is - we are thankful. We thank Sandra and every else, for a job well done,” the pastor said. 

A member of the church, who said she lost almost everything during the hurricane, said the church is privileged to have a Foundation such as Tzu Chi doing their best to assist others because “people do need the assistance… I lost most of my stuff during the hurricane, but I am alive and well. I didn’t have a scratch, but God is going to make everything ok. I am happy to have the Foundation here helping us here in St. Maarten.” 

One of the Tzu Chi volunteers, who assisted in the exercise said although she lost half of her home during hurricane Irma, she is grateful to have an opportunity to assist others via the foundation. “It is a privilege to help others in the Foundation. It is a blessing to be here.” 

Tzu Chi thanked recipients for accepting the donations of relief items. The Foundation also thanked Pastor Thevalys Lazare and volunteers Eveline, Marie and the others who participated for their dedicated efforts in seeking help on behalf of the needed families. 

Cheung said the Foundation will continue to assist families in need by continuing its three goods relief efforts.

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