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UNESCO National Commission for Sint Maarten to be established

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Jorien Wuite announces that the process to formalize and officially install the Sint Maarten National Commission (NATCOM) for UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has advanced.

Candidate names have been submitted to Governor Eugene Holiday upon the recommendation of UNESCO Secretary General Marcellia Henry.

Once made official by national decree the first meeting will be immediately called to start consultations as an advisory capacity to Government in achieving the objectives of UNESCO through its fields of competence, namely; Education, the Natural Sciences, the Social Sciences, Culture, Communication and Information.  

Though officially signed off in 2013, the Commission was never activated; Minister Wuite made it a priority to ensure that this took precedence.

The Commission will comprise of the Minister as Chairperson, the Secretary General of the Ministry as Deputy Chair, Head of the Foreign Relations Department, experts with knowledge or demonstrable experience in the fields of culture, education, natural or social sciences, media and communication, a representative of youth within society and the UNESCO Secretary General for a period of three years.

This Commission will serve as an opportunity to align with regional and international Commissions to share best practices to further Sint Maarten’s positioning with regards to critical development needs and innovation for education, culture, youth and sports.

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Progress Committee discussed risk for public safety at Prison with Formateur Heyliger

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – “If action is not taken soon, the prison situation can turn into a serious risk for the public safety.” Chairman of the Progress Committee Sint Maarten said to formateur Theo Heyliger in a meeting held on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018. “The alarming situation at the prison calls for immediate action, not only on Sint Maarten but also in The Hague as well.”

The Progress Committee is presently in engaged talks with the various stakeholders in the justice chain as a part of its quarterly monitoring of the plans of approach for the prison and the police force.

The situation at the prison with critical understaffing of security guards, the lack of a prison director and half of the staff not at work for a variety of reasons ranging from sick leave, suspension to assigned elsewhere but still on the prison payroll with the result that replacements cannot be hired due to budgetary constraints.

The Progress Committee invited the formateur to discuss the safety and security issues of the prison in particular and the issues surrounding the plans of approach for the prison and the police force in general.

The formateur shared the concerns of the Progress Committee. “I am happy that the committee took the time to inform me about the situation at the prison.” said Theo Heyliger. “I believe that St. Maarten cannot develop its economy and tourism product without properly addressing the safety and security issues on the island first.”

The formateur thanked the committee and promised to bring this issue forward in the discussions with the coalition partners as a part of the governing accord talks.

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VLF’s Leadership Summit- A Tremendous Opportunity to Develop Future Leaders

SINT MAARTEN (PELICAN) - At a press conference held on Wednesday April 25th at Simpson Bay Resort and Marina, Operations Manager, Marcel Javois shared why Simpson Bay Resort chose to partner with Victorious Living’s Leadership Summit slated for May 4th to 5th, 2018. “When Victorious Living invited us to partner with the Leadership Summit, we didn’t have to think twice about coming on board as it is a tremendous opportunity to grow the future leaders of this island.”

Javois noted that with the recent devastating impact of Hurricane Irma on St. Maarten, “What better way to contribute than develop the people of St. Maarten who are St. Maarten’s core resources. The people that serve our guests are the core resources, therefore for us to survive we have to develop our people. It makes me very proud that we can partner with Victorious Living to help develop future leaders like [Genora Jankee, the awardee of VLF’s emerging Visionary Leader Worth Following].”

Victorious Living’s Leadership Summit is an expansion of Leadercast, simulcast live annually from Atlanta Georgia to hundreds of locations around the world to over 100,000 persons. The vision is to develop leaders who are worth following. Leadercast will be held on May 4th and features internationally renowned leaders such as: Mae Jemison - NASA Astronaut, Engineer & Physician; Andy Stanley - Leadership Author & Communicator; Jim Loehr - Co-founder of the Human Performance Institute.

On May 5th, the Summit continues with workshops ranging from “How to turn your videos into cash” with the global visibility catalyst, Ann DeVere; the 15 invaluable laws of growth presented by John Maxwell Certified Coach Nelson Els, and ServiceBranding™ with marketing consultant, Jasmine Payne.

Payne will help persons currently unemployed or wanting to change careers, to discover their personal brand and merge it with a company that fits their personal brand. She will also assist employers to be more effective in hiring employees who are the right fit with their brand. As a result we have happier employees, creating happy and satisfied customers, which increase the company’s bottom line.

Attendees will have the opportunity to learn their leadership style through the DISC. Dr. Erna Mae Francis Cotton, the visionary of Victorious Living and Mr. Roy Cotton Jr., Interpersonal and Professional Development Coach, will provide an interactive and engaging session where attendees walk away with practical tools and their DISC Personal Style and Report for enhancing personal and business relationships.

Leadership requires developing competencies – specific capabilities and skills. Knowing your character (the strengths, and qualities of your personality) is critical to becoming a successful leader. If as a leader you develop an impeccable character, you will lead, inspire, and win wherever you go. 

Dr. Alicia Liverpool, the visionary of the David Company and a 2016 recipient of VLF’s first annual Leader Worth Following Awards for Beyond You Leadership shared why for the past six years, she and her team have consistently attended Leadercast. She also offered words of congratulations and commendations to VLF’s 2018 Visionary Leader Worth Following Awardee, Apostle Napolina Richardson who emerged the winner through public voting.

Liverpool was in glowing praise of Mr. Ken Crossély as well, a 2018 Leader Worth Following nominee, for the tremendous way in which he mobilized the communities of Weymouth Hills, South Reward and Ebenezer in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, and saved the lives of a mother and her five year old daughter.

“I congratulate Apostle Napolina as a Leader Worth Following.”  Liverpool shared how inspired she was by Ken Crossély’s work, citing that the world needs more people like him. “It is imperative that we recognize and honour those among us who not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. That is the authenticity of a leader who is able to match what they say with what they do and not by dominance.

“Nothing sends a better message, than a leader who leads by example. For the past six years, I have never regretted my decision to attend Leadercast; and this year’s theme is of particular importance for me, as it focuses on ‘Lead Yourself.’ Consistency is where the power lies. Dr. Erna Mae it is a privilege for me to partner with you and this endeavour; thank you for inviting others on this journey.”

VLF’s Leadership Awards and Symposium features a local panel of leaders including Mr. Dwain Carbon of Carbon Acquisition Group, Mr. Joseph Lake, and Apostle Liverpool. To register for VLF’s Leadership Summit visit: www.victoriouslivingfoundation.com or call 1-721-524-8731 by May 1st.

CUTLINE: Group photo of VLF's volunteers, board members and VLF Summit organizers, local panelists, Resort Marketing Manager, past Leadercast attendees, awardees and members of Y2X, youth wing of VLF.

vlf group

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Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders & Alexander Star to Promote Island

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten Management met with representatives from MSC Cruises USA last week at the company’s office in Fort Lauderdale, Florida as they prepare a campaign focused on promoting St. Maarten as a beautiful and vibrant destination.

Port St. Maarten Management said that they are proud to inform citizens and stakeholders that MSC Cruises has arranged to have the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders on the Island on May 1st as they capture photos and video for their Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders Annual. The cheerleaders will also be participating in a segment of the second day Grand Carnival parade.

One of the most visible entertainment groups in all of professional sports, the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders have traveled to more than 30 countries on five continents over the past decade and continue to be an iconic and international face of NFL Cheerleaders. The cheerleaders are on the sidelines for all home games and are extremely active in the community; visiting schools and hospitals, as well as charity and corporate events.

 “This is huge for the destination especially at this time when demand for Eastern Caribbean cruises has been challenging due to the overall perception that the entire Caribbean was “wiped out” by the hurricanes.

“This is our opportunity for us as a destination to put our best foot forward and capitalize on this opportunity not only to showcase that we have the best Carnival in the region, but also that we are the most friendly and hospitable cruise destination in the Eastern Caribbean.

“We thank the Hon. Acting Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Cornelius de Weever for supporting this initiative along with the President and board of the St. Maarten Carnival Foundation,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Wednesday.

The marketing campaign will also include the filming of a music video featuring Emmy-nominated recording artist Alexander Star.

Star’s song “Pass the good vibes around,” delivers a bright and uplifting energy that invites the world to spread love and share positive vibes. “Working with MSC Cruises is a blessing, and this video will highlight that St. Maarten and Puerto Rico are back in business with great vibes,” said Star. Star will be on the Island on April 30 and May 1.

Port St. Maarten Management has also asked the Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performing Arts to participate with a small choir for segments of the video.

“MSC Cruises is thrilled to be supporting St. Maarten and helping our cruise guests ‘Rediscover this great island,’ said Bonnie Levengood, senior vice president of MSC Cruises. “Through this marketing campaign we hope to show our travel agent partners and consumers that the island is back up and running, including some of the hottest spots such as Maho Beach, and that there are a wide variety of activities for tourists to do while visiting.”

“As a destination we are now still at the starting line of the race, the race to recovery and regaining our competitive edge. We must be innovative and hospitable to our guests. The economy on the Island is dependent on the cruise product, and we need all hands-on deck.

“We have shown that we are resilient and can deliver experiences to our esteemed visitors, however there is much work to be done still in terms of full economic recovery. We would like to thank MSC Cruises for launching this campaign and placing resources to show the outer world that destination St. Maarten, the Friendly Island, is back in business as we push for them to come and Rediscover this great island,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Wednesday.

Swiss-based MSC Cruises is the world’s largest privately-owned cruise company and the number one cruise line in Europe and South America.

The MSC Cruises fleet currently comprises 14 ultra-modern, highly innovative and elegantly designed ships. Under its ambitious industry-unprecedented €10.5 billion investment plan, the fleet is set to expand to 24 mega-cruise ships by 2026. To date, MSC Cruises has designed six new ship classes, all prototypes that push the boundaries of marine architecture and design.

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NA Leader MP Jacobs calls for postponement of National Budget Meeting of Parliament

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In a letter dated Tuesday, April 24th, 2018, National Alliance Faction Leader, Member of Parliament, Silveria Jacobs, submitted a letter to the President of Parliament, Sarah Wescot-Williams, firstly thanking the Chairlady for her prompt response to schedule a requested meeting with the Honorable Prime Minister Mrs. Leona Marlin, to discuss the Status of the National Recovery Plan, the overall recovery of Sint Maarten in general, The role of the World Bank in the recovery process, the dissemination of recovery funds and the status of the Sint Maarten Project Bureau to manage the recovery project.

The above is scheduled for Wednesday, April 25th, 2018 and the Faction highly anticipates the discussion.

In addition, the Faction Leader also acknowledged receipt of a convocation for the meeting on the 2018 Budget which is set for Thursday April 26, 2018. Though the National Alliance Faction is anxious to deliberate over this matter, the Members of the National Faction believe sufficient time has not been allotted to thoroughly review the document.

MP Jacobs noted that the document was sent digitally over the weekend and same was still limited to access due to interruptions by GEBE at the parliament building this past Monday. MP Jacobs further pointed out that the copy received is deemed “illegible”even in digital form.

With the support of her fellow Members of Parliament, MP Jacobs is of the opinion that “in order to properly prepare for a budget meeting, especially in a time such as this when St. Maarten is faced with a deficit budget and at a precarious stage of the recovery, it is imperative that we, as representatives of the people, receive a read-only digital copy in excel form as well as a legible hard copy to be able to properly analyze the data provided.” she is quoted as saying. In addition, the NA faction also requests sufficient time to be able to properly peruse the Budget 2018.

Therefore, the NA faction requested the Budget meeting convened for Thursday April 26, 2016, be postponed until such time the proper documentation is provided to Members of Parliament and a reasonable time (5 working days) is provided to peruse said Budget document.

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CIBC SECURES US$57+ MILLION FINANCING FOR MAHO GROUP RECONSTRUCTION

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – CIBC FirstCaribbean has partnered with the Maho Group in its reconstruction and upgrading of its properties. Sonesta Ocean Point Resort and Sonesta Maho Beach Resort sustained severe damages from hurricane Irma last September and the bank has arranged financing for Maho’s rebuilding through a US$ 57,5 million Senior Secured Term Loan which is partially guaranteed via Export Development Canada.

“Since the passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria CIBC FirstCaribbean has given intensive regional support, providing relief supplies and donations and funding for the rebuilding of homes and businesses.

“Seven months later, the bank remains dedicated and committed to St. Maarten and the other territories that have been impacted by the storms. We are proud to support the rebuilding of what is a very important resort to St. Maarten.

“The start of this reconstruction will create the necessary employment and is key to bringing the tourist back to this beautiful island” said Pim van der Burg, Managing Director Corporate & Investment Banking of CIBC FirstCaribbean Bank.

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Minister Wuite guest of Sint Maarten Yacht Club as they re-open youth sailing lessons from new dock

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - On Saturday, April 21st Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Jorien Wuite was a guest of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club where the flag of Sint Maarten was raised for the first time since Hurricane Irma as they officially re-opened their youth sailing lessons.

The afternoon consisted of a sailing event and a raffle, the proceeds of which will benefit the club’s Youth Sailing Program and rebuilding efforts.

At the event the Sint Maarten Yacht Club & Sailing School reported that they sustained severe damages caused by the hurricane. Their docks, deck and fleet were severely damaged and fifty percent of their fleet was destroyed or needed replacement.

The past six months was spent building back the deck for lessons to resume, though lessons continued from the Kim Sha beach. Lessons will now be able to resume from the newly rebuilt dock.

CUTLINE: Alec Scarabelli - top youth sailor, Minister Wuite, Michel Soons - Commodore of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club and Christopher Marshall - former Commodore of the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.

yacht club 1

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USP MP Brison Expresses Serious Concerns on 2018 Budget Handling

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Member of Parliament (MP) Rolando Brison of the United St. Maarten Party (USP) parliamentary faction, through a letter to the President of Parliament MP Wescott-Williams, expressed various concerns with the proposed process for the perusing and debating of the budget 2018 for St. Maarten, the MP said in a press statement on Monday.

In his letter, Brison references the Memo from the Minister of Finance regarding the proposed schedule for budget 2018 (10/apr/2018 IS/454), the convocation to meetings this Wednesday (CC 23) regarding various crucial topics (Recovery, Waste Management and the Cyber Attacks), followed by the Central Committee meeting regarding the Budget 2018 (CC24).

“I am deeply disturbed by several issues related to these meetings,” remarked Brison, “While I am aware that the Central Committee is Thursday and it affords me the opportunity to raise these concerns in that meeting, I feel it would be irresponsible of me to let more time pass without having these urgent items addressed before any such meeting take place.”

Brison’s first concern was regarding the time various bodies that must review the budget, such as the council of advice, governor and council of Ministers, have had to review the budget. “For example, in the Memo IS/454, the Minister has only allowed for 1 full business day for the council of advice to render advice on the budget. As you know, the Council had advised us recently that they try to get the most urgent requests completed within 2 weeks.”

The preparation time parliament will have to review this budget is also a major concern. “Based on the schedule, and now on the convocation for meetings, we see that the first meeting regarding the budget is scheduled for Thursday April 26th, with the budget needing to be approved on Monday May 1st, just 5 days of deliberations even if we work through the weekend and holidays (something I have no issue doing in the interest of the country). But this is after giving us just 3 days ahead of the CC24 meeting to prepare for said meeting, with a flawed document to make matters worse. On top of that we have to debate 3 crucial topics Wednesday (CC23) and we must to prepare for that too,” continues the MP.

“The budget is 191 pages long, is the first budget in the history of St. Maarten to have a deficit, and I believe it to be one of the most crucial budgets approved by our country, paramount to the recovery of this island. To have this budget schedule proceed as suggested by the Minister of Finance with the lack of preparation time would be paramount to relegating Parliament to a “Rubber Stamp”.

The MP also finds it unclear where the “promised deadline” of May 1st that the Minister of Finance spoke of. “We need clarity on this date and why it has come to this,” Brison noted.

Budget Format far from ideal
Brison found that the budget submitted in PDF form digitally is far from ideal. He remarked that it is a poorly scanned document, with most of the headings illegible, with most of the document having many illegible headings and figures.

“I know that there is a working Excel document that many civil servants have access to, I think it only practical to ensure parliament has this at our disposal as well, which with just a few mouse-clicks can be made into a Read-Only documents and sent to all members of Parliament,” suggested MP Brison. He also noted that the budget is in Dutch, despite many requests by several factions in the past that the budget be presented in both languages.

Regarding the review process: Brison queried  whether parliament can ascertain the actual time the advisory bodies, council of ministers, governor and others have had to review this budget, and ensure that they feel they have had sufficient time to review this budget before presenting to Parliament, unaffected by the undue pressure of an unrealistic schedule hanging over them.

Regarding the deadline of May 1st, the MP requested in explanation  as to why this deadline, who imposed it and whether the Minister of Finance expects parliament to “Rubber Stamp” the budget without any real deliberation, scrutiny and preparation in order to meet said deadline.

Lastly, the MP requested the President’s assistance in having the Minister of Finance send a fully digital version of the Budget (Excel) and the explanatory notes (Word or PDF) to allow us to better evaluate the items within the budget, search through the document (“CTRL-F”), as well as confirm at least the rudimentary mathematical accuracies and calculations of said budget.

“Our faction, and all my fellow MP’s, have taken the oath to uphold the constitution. As we know, Article 100 and other articles of our constitution are very clear about the mandate and responsibility of Parliament in deliberating, approving, and amending the budget. Through this letter today, my goal is to ensure all MP’s have what is necessary to uphold this constitutional responsibility granted to us by the people."

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WIB’s Jump in 2018

PHILIPSBURG - The Windward Islands Bank Ltd. (WIB), for the past years, has done their part to add to the Carnival celebration with its annual Block Parties, which is now re-branded as “Jump In”, according to a press release from WIB on Monday.   

The focus is on bringing its community and staff together with great entertainment, and this year WIB’s Jump In will be back on the street in front of the main branch in Philipsburg. 

WIB Jump In will feature Natty & The House band, Kenyo Baly, and DJ JackThe Hot One”. There will be food and drinks on sale courtesy of the WIB’s Employee Association.

“All cups served will be of biodegradable material which is better for our Landfill; and this year; WIB staff have opted to reuse Carnival Shirts of the past in effort to waste less. The WIB staff will all be sporting their vintage Carnival T-shirts in honor of the past years of activities, and save on cost as well.    

“There will also be a sneak preview of WIB’s Personal Online Banking, so come on down to the WIB’s Jump In at our Philipsburg branch and celebrate Carnival 2018 with us.

“WIB invites the community of St. Maarten to have a good time at WIB’s Jump In on Thursday, April 26th from 5:30pm to 11:30pm. Join us for live entertainment, food, drinks, free giveaways and lots of FUN! We look forward to seeing you there.” 

Please take note: the D.A. Pieterson Street (in front the bank) will be blocked as of 3:00pm in preparation for this event. 

It’s always more fun with your partner in progress.

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Port St. Maarten and FCCA initiates destinations think tank

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Acting Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Cornelius de Weever, led a delegation that included Port St. Maarten Supervisory board Chairman Fernando William, Interim Director Ton van Kooten and Business Development Officer Alexander Gumbs, to a meeting with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Operations Committee on Thursday April 19th as an initiative to improve communications with Eastern Caribbean destinations that were impacted by the September 2017 hurricanes.

The destinations form a critical part of the Eastern Caribbean cruises and together must showcase that the countries have recovered well from the hurricanes in 2017, and are now open for business.  Based on the aforementioned, Port St. Maarten and the FCCA initiated a destinations think tank that would continue to bring this message forward about best practices, lessons learned, and developing a sustainable future together.

“Destinations in the Eastern Caribbean are all in the same boat together.  Should more than two destinations on the cruise itinerary not be up to par, this can directly affect cruise calls to St. Maarten. 

“We all have a mutual beneficial interests in each other’s welfare where cruise tourism is concerned. We have to ensure our cruise passenger facilities services and experiences are ready in order to keep the demand high for the Eastern Caribbean.

“There is not one cruise that only comes to St. Maarten, and therefore we must all recover together in the right manner.  From a local perspective, that is why the South and North sides of the island signed a Memorandum of Understanding where destination promotion is concerned; one cannot do without the other.  This same philosophy and approach also applies for Eastern Caribbean cruise destinations,” Acting Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Cornelius de Weever pointed out.

Several cruise lines communicated over the last two months that the demand for the Eastern Caribbean had softened.  Acting Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Cornelius de Weever said that St. Maarten has been doing well in terms of ratings post Irma, “However, we must continue to share the positive messages and photos from the Island across various social media platforms.

Minister De Weever further encouraged citizens to use the #stmaarten and #sxm social media handles with each great photo and videos they would put online of the Island buzzing with culture and entertainment. 

The FCCA applauded the destinations for already welcoming tens of thousands of passengers since the hurricanes, and are excited looking at the upcoming cruise season.

The FCCA Operations Committee further mentioned that the platform is perfect to share lessons learned, best practices preparation for the upcoming hurricane season and to devise ways to improve to become better than ever. 

Port St. Maarten Management praised the FCCA and Member Lines for the relief efforts and the continuous feedback, and reiterated the importance of citizens’ efforts.

Port St. Maarten’s Management, told how St. Maarten quickly enacted a strategy to gather both the private and public sectors to meet with a former cruise line executive to prepare for cruise passengers’ return, especially in terms of messaging to deliver, and focus on the silver lining of the catastrophe by finding ways to enhance offerings and rebuild even better than ever. 

In all, the joint effort proved so proactive that the cruise line executives suggested holding similar meetings every quarter with the FCCA Operations Committee, which would further the efforts of the regular events the FCCA hosts throughout the year to bring together cruise executives and destination stakeholders with the goal of developing mutual success.

Government and Port executives from other Eastern Caribbean Ports were also in attendance U.S. Virgin Islands’ Commissioner of Tourism, Beverly Nicholson-Doty; Dominica’s Minister of Tourism and Urban Renewal, Hon. Robert Tonge; British Virgin Islands’ Minister of Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool; and Puerto Rico Tourism Company’s (PRTC) Chief Strategist, Ronald Castro.

The Operations Committee consisted of; Howard Sherman, EVP, Onboard Revenue, Port & Destination Services & Casino Operations, NCLH; Steve Moeller, Vice President, Commercial Development, NCLH; Sandi Weir, Vice President, Destination Development & Government Relations, NCLH; Carlos Torres de Navarra, Vice President, Commercial Port Operations, Carnival Cruise Lines; Albino Supino di Lorenzo, Vice President, Operations, ‎MSC Cruises USA; and Arnaldo Zanonato, Senior Manager, Port Adventures, Disney Cruise Line. 

Created in 1972, the FCCA is a not-for-profit trade organization that provides a forum for discussion on tourism development, ports, safety, security, and other cruise industry issues and builds bilateral relationships with destinations’ private and public sectors. By fostering an understanding of the cruise industry and its operating practices, the FCCA works with governments, ports and private sector representatives to maximize cruise passenger, crew and cruise line spending, as well as enhance the destination experience and increase the amount of cruise passengers returning as stay-over visitors.

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