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SHTA UNDERLINES VALUE OF STABILITY

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - On behalf of our members, and by extension in the interest of the people of St. Maarten, the Board of the SHTA calls upon Parliament, both coalition members as well as the opposition to consider the consequences of their pending actions tomorrow and what will be the wider impact to the country and the impact to our collective endeavors to improve the socio-economic circumstances of Sint Maarten. 

Sint Maarten cannot afford, at this time, the disruption of government that would result from the adoption of the motions of no confidence. Without forsaking our Constitution and Democratic rights, we implore on all stakeholders involved specially at this point to ponder and do not underestimate the value of stability, vs. the cost of instability. 

Let’s together, focus on the interests of Sint Maarten and expedite the refinancing and repair of our airport, the gateway to Sint Maarten. Let’s together, workand support efforts to provide the financial means and other support to those who still need to repair their homes and/or their businesses. Let’s, together, ensure that destination Sint Maarten can be properly marketed abroad and create the positive economic growth that we all so desperately need.

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Nature Foundation Records Harmful Algal Bloom in the Simpson Bay Lagoon

SINT MAARTEN (COLE BAY) - The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation over the past week has been monitoring the spread and extent of a Harmful Algal Bloom currently ongoing in the Cole Bay Corner section of the Simpson Bay Lagoon. 

Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, occur when colonies of algae—simple plants that live in the sea and freshwater—grow out of control while producing toxic or harmful effects on people and wildlife. 

“Over the past week we have noticed an increase in harmful algae in sections of the Simpson Bay Lagoon, in particular in the Cole Bay Corner section of the Lagoon. It started out small but unfortunately over the past few days we have noticed an increase in the extent of the bloom,” commented Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets.

Although there have not been any signs of fish kills or human impacts yet, the Foundation is monitoring the situation closely considering the potential for harmful effects caused by the bloom; “right now we hope that the conditions will stabilize which will allow the bloom to dissipate. However, considering the potential for harmful impacts we will be keeping a close eye on the situation,” continued Bervoets.

Harmful Algal Blooms occurs when nutrients (mainly phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon) from sources such as sewage and wastewater 'overfeed' the algae that exist normally in the environment, causing the algae to bloom.

“Unfortunately, this is an example of poor water quality leading into a wider issue within our environment. In addition to this bloom we are also struggling with the health of our coral both on the reefs and within our coral nursery. This issue highlights the need for addressing our wastewater management on the island,” concluded Bervoets.

nature algae bloom ins1

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FCCA reacts to the ‘Gay Cruise’ comment made in Parliament

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - President of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association Michele M. Paige said this week “we in the industry are proud to sail full steam ahead with numerous progressive initiatives from world-leading environmental innovations to empowering minorities in the workplace and embracing all people and communities, including LGBTQ, who incidentally tend to travel and spend more in destinations than average.”

Her statement follows a series of questions and negative comments made by Opposition Members in the Parliament of St. Maarten regarding the recent travel of Tourism Minister the Honourable Stuart Johnson in which the opposition members questioned whether the trip was “a family cruise or a gay cruise.”

Paige said, “Our recent PAMAC Cruise Summit was anything but a typical pleasure cruise. As a fixture of our Platinum Membership program for more than 20 years, it is one of our annual events giving our Platinum Members, key private and public sector representatives throughout Florida, the Caribbean and Latin America, a direct line to executives from our Member Lines, which account for about 95 percent of the global ocean cruising capacity.”

“This year's event featured nearly 30 high-level executives who decide where ships call, what is sold and used on board, and how to invest in destinations and infrastructure, along with ample opportunities to develop business and relationships through everything from scheduled one-on-one meetings. A large-scale meeting between all members and executives, and networking functions, to informal meetings both on board and on land, with St. Maarten also maximizes the chance to impress the prestigious audience with an exclusive excursion and preview of the upcoming PAMAC Conference that will be hosted at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa this June 12-15.”

It was also the opinion of the opposition that the decision to travel to attend the summit did not supersede Johnson’s responsibility as Shareholder Representative of PJIA to address the “financially precarious situation at the Princess Juliana International Airport 9pjIA) at the time.” Johnson maintained that all provisions for the USD$5 million liquidity support were in place with the full support of the Council of Ministers. When he learnt the preparations for liquidity support, had a “bump in the road” Johnson cut short the Summit and convened an emergency meeting with the Minister of Finance and the Airport upon his return to ensure, with the help of his colleague Minister, that the airport workers received their salary. 

The need to protect and improve the quality of the Cruise Industry on St. Maarten and address concerns from Taxi Drivers, Tour Operators and other local businesses were amongst the reasons given for attending the PAMAC Summit. The event was also a forum for discussing the concerns of cruise passengers and finding ways to improve visitor experience. Paige said, "Considering the decision-making power at our events, it is no surprise that they have been the spawning point for everything from new tours to entire destination developments, and from securing an inaugural call to 1,000 per cent increases in passenger arrivals.” Paige said, “Minister Johnson and Port St Maarten are well aware of this. Their regular participation at our meetings and events in conjunction with their constant communication, partnership and willingness to implement feedback and initiatives has been absolutely crucial in the destination actualising the potential of cruise tourism.” This includes St. Maarten being able to boast having the second-highest average spend per passenger ($142.23) in the 2018 BREA study.

From the perspective of the PAMAC Cruise, Minister Johnson's attendance was necessary to discuss the destination's recent and pending initiatives to continue its reinvention following the 2017 storms and offer more experiences with the aim of converting additional cruisers to overnight guests and attracting homeported vessels. In the bigger picture, his work with us following the storms was essential in navigating the destination through that tragic time rebounding to 1.6 million in 2018 along with also being poised to beat its record guest satisfaction level, as shared at the PAMAC Cruise. 

According to the FCCA President one of the reasons St. Maarten has become a premier cruise destination extends past the focus on constant improvement, from first implementing water transportation, and centres instead on the “constant” of that equation provided by Port St. Maarten.

Paige said, “Consistency with our destination partners is always advantageous. At FCCA, our largest role is forging partnerships with private and public sector representatives, educating about the industry and then working to mutual understanding and success between our partners and Member Lines.”

With this mutual understanding already in place, the path is streamlined to discuss and develop initiatives building that mutual success and building on FCCA’s foundation: 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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PJIA CEO Brian Mingo and SHTA Board Discuss Plans of Approach for Reconstruction

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - On Tuesday February 19th, Princess Juliana International Airport CEO Brian Mingo presented the airport’s progress, outlooks and challenges at a meeting with one of its key stakeholders, the Sint Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA). 

During the meeting, Mingo outlined the key challenges the airport has faced and continues to face in its recovery process – in addition to liquidity and insurance challenges; that most business owners can sympathize with in this post-Irma environment; debt service ratios, cost cutting without impacting personnel; and the step by step approach towards full recovery and maximizing utilization during that process were discussed.  It is expected that the airport will be back to full capacity and functionality by December 2020 if no further challenges arise. 

Recovery of the airport has been one of the key priorities for the association. In its Vision presented in May 2018 to Prime Minister Romeo-Marlin and Dutch Government representative Hans Leijtens (SHTA.com/Vision-2025) the SHTA ranked recovery of the airport as one of the top 10 urgent priorities for the recovery of Sint Maarten. 

This association has been pushing through all available channels, including the monthly stakeholder meetings of the airport; the urgent need to solve the financing and other hinderances the airport faces post haste.  

The association’s representatives showed support of the austere, but pragmatic recovery strategy proposed by Mingo; and recognized that accepting the proposal of the World Bank and European Investment Bank Soft loan seems like the most expeditious and responsible way forward, as it is improbable that a better financing solution will be made available in the immediate especially given current constraints with debt service and existing lender agreements.   

The association noted that it is also unrealistic to expect any entity to provide you with $100 Million in financing without insisting on conditions of usage or oversight. Given the reputation of Schiphol as a premier international airport, it was widely agreed that integrating their expertise alongside our local expertise would indeed prove advantageous to PJIA; not only in recovery efforts but also in many other areas, to improve synergies, and better leverage economies of scale by being able to more rapidly absorb best practices not already engaged.  

Given the vast experience of the Schiphol Group in managing several airports and even a terminal of John F Kennedy Airport in New York, the association sees this as an opportunity.

SHTA underlined the importance of continuing to improve the customer experience as the recovery efforts move forward and to continue to tackle first impressions for our arriving guests.  It was important for the SHTA to learn that the process of reconstruction will allow more areas to come online over time and that there is not just one step from today’s operations to December 2020; and that the Jetways, and check-in areas have top priority for returning to use. It was stressed to view passenger arrival and departure areas to make sure that these areas were upgraded and maintained.  

US Pre-clearance was also discussed, the importance of it for Sint Maarten and how there are limited resources to have it included in the initial phase, which, now 17 months after Irma, has not started yet. 

The Association stressed ensuring the ROI for US pre-clearance for the airport as well as the island as a whole; as it is an expensive addition to the service offering, which may or may not increase the Sint Maarten visitor satisfaction level sufficiently for the annually recurring cost.    

The Association believes that our airport should be our gateway and that it is not necessarily in the island’s best interest to move visitor’s on and off of it as quickly as possible but to facilitate long and enjoyable visits.

The SHTA appreciated the open dialogue and clarifications on PJIA policy and strategy and thanked CEO Mingo for taking the time to make his presentation to the Board.

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Grisha Heyliger-Marten Calls Detention Theo at Philipsburg Police Station, a “Stab in the back”

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) – Grisha Heyliger-Marten, wife of Member of Parliament (MP) and United Democrats (UD) leader, Theo Heyliger, says the arrest and detention of her husband in the Philipsburg Police Station is a “stab in the back.”

“They came to our house around 7:00am on Tuesday, 19 February 2019. They were there for six hours. They came in ten vehicles. They were very polite with my kids, including the youngest one who is six years old. After that, in my mind, I was thinking they were going to take Theo to Pointe Blanche,” she said.

However, the UD leader and highest vote-getter on the island, was whisked off to the Philipsburg Police Station which has already been condemned by the European Court as unfit for human detention.

“For spite they’re doing this. I know now they were just being nice to me in the morning so that they can stick the dagger in the back,” said Mrs. Heyliger-Marten.

She said she was going to remain calm and silent and allow the process to take its course at least for the next 48 hours. However, she decided to go public after she learned that they were holding her husband in a Police cell in Philipsburg which a recent ruling by the European Court condemned as inhuman.

“Why is it that all the other detainees in this and other investigations were held in Pointe Blanche, except Theo?” she asked. “They want to break him; they want to break this country.”

The UD leader is expected to appear in court on Thursday, February 21stat 2:00PM as he continues his legal battle in the so-called LARIMAR investigation in which he is suspected of alleged bribery, corruption and money-laundering.

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SMART 2019 Opens Early Bird Season

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Early Bird ticket season for the Saint Martin / Sint Maarten Annual Trade Show (SMART) 2019 edition (May 21st– May 23d) has officially started as of today. This was announced by the event’s key organizers Office du Tourisme de Saint Martin, Sint Maarten Tourism Bureau, L’Association des Hoteliers de Saint Martin (AHSM) and the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA).

Early Bird Season will run until the month of April and allows foreign tour operators, local tourism and non-tourism businesses alike to purchase access passes to what is traditionally the largest tradeshow of the Northeastern Caribbean. Amongst others, this year’s event will include more innovation, experiences, local businesses, added trainings, a new topic of “mystery dinners” and a vendor street.

SMART’s 15thedition has been in the making for quite some time. Key partners abroad and domestic have been notified that this jubilee edition is to take place. All four partners are committed to show the destination is back in business after the effects of the 2017 hurricane season. 

For its comeback edition, organizers chose a new logo, look and approach befitting the renewed mission of the event – providing insights in hospitality and business innovations available, in addition to the traditional business meetings taking place. Its ambition is to involve even more Saint Martin / Sint Maarten local businesses, both tourism and non-tourism, than it did in its previous 14 editions. 

The largest SMART thus far will consist of 3 days of inspiring innovative masterclasses, workshops, activities, festivities and business to business appointments. The event will kick off on Tuesday 21st May 2019 with a unique opening ceremonyAfter two days of conferences including a “mystery dinner tour” in the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean, a spectacular farewell event will end SMART’s 15th edition. 

The organizing partners are expecting numerous Tour Operators, Travel Agents, Travel Writers and Event Planners from the US, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean to attend this important event.

In previous years, SMART featured regional businesses from Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Curaçao, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Barthelemy, St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Maarten-St. Martin.

Registration for Early Birds can be done at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Event information will be continuously updated at SHTA.com/SMART. For reservations or questions, please call +1-721-542-0108.

SMART and Partners logos

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SMMC welcomes rotational Pediatric Cardiologist

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is pleased to announce a new rotational Pediatric Cardiologist, Dr. Amadu Juliana, who has started providing his services recently. Dr. Juliana is providing general Pediatric Cardiology services during regular visits to the hospital which started in January. 

Dr. Juliana began his Pediatric training at the University Hospital of Groningen in The Netherlands. He began his practice as a Pediatrician with Pediatric Cardiology expertise in non-invasive diagnostics: Electrocardiogram (ECG) and Echocardiography.  After working for 8 years as a Pediatrician in Suriname, Dr. Juliana furthered his fellowship in Pediatric Cardiology at the Leiden University Hospital and registered as a Pediatric Cardiologist in The Netherlands.He currently works at the Academic Pediatric Center in Suriname.

As a Pediatric Cardiologist, Dr. Juliana diagnoses and treats congenital and acquired heart conditions in infants, children and adolescents. Dr. Juliana’s Pediatric Cardiology experience brings new areas of expertise to SMMC, including: Echocardiograms, Prenatal Echocardiography, evaluation for Arrhythmias and invasive procedures through heart characterizations. His clinical interests include Congenital heart defects, Rheumatic heart disease and Prenatal Echocardiography.

Dr. Felix Holiday, SMMC’s Medical Director, stated: “We are excited to welcome Dr. Juliana to SMMC with his expertise and focus on quality outcomes. We are eager to implement his vision for improving access to high-quality Cardiac care for the children of St. Maarten”.

With the provision of this service, the hospital will give children the best possible chance for a healthy future through the early diagnosis and repair of pediatric heart defects. 

Patients who wish to see the new Pediatric Cardiologist can make an appointment at the Outpatient Department at Tel: 543-1111 ext. 1300 or 1310. Appointments can be made from Mondays-Fridays between 8:00 am – 4:30 pm.

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Dutch Minister of Education pays visit to APS’ Mary’s Fancy Plantation project

SINT MAARTEN (MARY’S FANCY) - The General Pension Fund of Sint Maarten, APS in collaboration with Dr. Jay Haviser hosted a tour and presentation of the restoration of the Mary’s Fancy Plantation for Dutch Minister of Education, Culture & Science Ms. Ingrid van Engelshoven and her support staff on February 4th. 

Dr. Jay Haviser, Director of SIMARC gave a presentation of the restoration project, including information on the National Heritage Center. Dr. Haviser spoke adamantly about the restoration project, stating that the approach of APS towards this project is “an example of renovation/restoration done right.” 

SIMARC is responsible for the execution of the archaeological digs, tree inventory and consultation. The collaboration with SIMARC grants young locals the opportunity to be actively involved in the project as well.

“We are happy to be able to host Minister Engelshoven and her delegation. Once completed, we believe the Mary’s Fancy restoration project will be another prime monument that both locals and visitors can enjoy for many generations to come.” - Mrs. Kendra Arnell - Manager Projects. 

The delegation included Minister of Education, Youth, Culture and Sport (MEYCS) Mr. Wycliffe Smith and his support staff, representatives of the Inspectorate of MEYCF, representative of the Netherlands Mr. Chris Johnson, Mr. Erwin Arkenbout and several other government officials. APS officials included Mr Oscar Williams - Manager Pension Administration & Reporting and Mrs. Kendra Arnell - Manager Projects.

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CC1 St. Maarten introduces Capriccio Bubbly Sangria

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - CC1 St. Maarten, the exclusive distributor of Coca Cola®, the number #1 beverage in the world introduces Capriccio Sangria, the sangria that has revolutionized beverage alcohol in the United States. 

Capriccio Sangria has become the fastest growing beverage alcohol brand in the US market due to its premium ingredients and tremendous social media following.  Capriccio Sangria is made from 100 percent natural fruit juices and grape wine with no additives or preservatives.  

Dave Steiner, National Sales Director at Florida Caribbean Distillers who manufactures Capriccio, stated that “consumer demand has been so strong that the brand consistently sold out in retail stores.  We had to rapidly increase our production capabilities to supply the huge demand from every market.” 

Using the claim “How Do You Capriccio” we invited consumers to spread the word for the Brand on how they consume and enjoy their favorite Capriccio flavor in different consumption moments.  We have even launched a campaign called the Capriccio Hunt that invited consumers to go out into the market to search for and acquire their own Capriccio bottle. 

Even though Capriccio Sangria was introduced to the US market in 2015, it has most recently taken off with sales growth in the most recent quarter of 432 percent over the previous year eclipsing all other sangria brands.  Capriccio Sangria is without a doubt the fastest selling sangria in the US and the number one selling sangria in all the Caribbean. 

The product is sold in a convenient 4-pack of 375ml bottles for single serve usage, and is also available for bars/restaurants and home consumption in a 750ml bottle. It currently is available in both a red and white flavor presentation with future flavors of watermelon and rose on the horizon.  Capriccio Sangria is available from your favorite supermarket or liquor store, and please remember to always enjoy Capriccio Sangria responsibly.

CC1 St. Maarten is a leader in beverages, beers and spirit distribution on St. Maarten and the surrounding islands. For inquires, or placing an order please contact CC1 St. Maarten, +1 721 542 2283. Located on Oryx Drive #1, Cay Hill or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Inspectorate TEATT to meet Quarterly with Veterinary Clinics

GREAT BAY, (DCOMM) – The Inspectorate of TEATT (Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunications) are working with stakeholders to further enhance relations which is mutually beneficial to both parties concerned.

Management of the Inspectorate TEATT, representatives of Section LVV (Livestock, Agriculture & Fisheries) of the Inspectorate met with representatives of several Veterinary Clinics operating in the country, namely, the St. Maarten Veterinary Clinic, The Animal Hospital of St. Maarten, and the Animal Care Clinic. 

It was decided during this meeting that the Inspectorate TEATT and the Veterinary Clinics will meet on a quarterly basis with the next meeting set for May 8.

A number of topics were discussed that are related to animal welfare and the protection of the country as well as emergency preparedness interventions for animals in the event of natural and man-made disasters, the latter which is based on Article 14 of the Organization Decree, Ministry of TEATT and is also a requirement of the Ministry of TEATT’s Disaster Preparedness Plan.

Other issues that were discussed were licensing and registration of veterinarians; stray animals; microchipping of animals; guidelines for the importation of animals; disaster preparedness plan for veterinarians; and veterinarian disease surveillance reporting. 

The meeting took place in the conference room of the Inspectorate at its offices on the Juancho Yrausquin Boulevard, Point Blanche.

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