SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - The Marine industry has its challenges but the successes that the St. Maarten Marine industry has achieved over the years are worth celebrating and more importantly worth the full support of government, said Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication (TEATT), Stuart Johnson.
His statement was made following a recent visit to Yacht Club Port de Plaisance which is operated by Marine Management / Jeff Boyd, one of the pioneers of the region in the Marine. Boyd who designed Isle Del Sol, Yacht Club Port de Plaisance and several others in other Countries, including St. Kitts took Minister Johnson on a tour of the facilities.
As part of the Governing Program 2018 – 2022 for the St. Maarten United Christian Democratic Coalition, Johnson has been given the responsibility to ensure that the disaster management component of the Marine Trade Industry is revised. Johnson further commented that he is looking forward to working with the industry partners to strengthen the maritime facilities and services.
“The Mega Yacht industry has, and continues to play a vital role in providing St. Maarten with a unique quality of visitors and these visitor arrivals are crucial to our government’s promise of providing a sustainable living for the people. Whenever there are super yachts docked at the various marinas, the economic activities that are generated as a direct result of their spending power are exponential as it goes beyond, car rentals, and restaurants,” said Johnson. This is why I am committed through my Ministry to do whatever is necessary to get the industry back on track in a big way,” said Johnson.
Boyd explained the extensive damage the Dock sustained in 2017 when hurricane Irma devastated St. Maarten, resulting in a complete redesign, repair and some expansion work to accommodate several of the regular Mega Yachts that visit our island each year. Boyd told Johnson, “I look forward to continuing the working relationship with you and appreciate your keen understanding of the importance of a robust marine industry to the future economic development of St Maarten which will be extremely refreshing.”
Minister Johnson said that the visit was crucial as his ministry is focusing over the next few weeks on ways to provide adequate support to the local partners in the Marine Industry. Johnson will be travelling to Antigua shortly to attend the Antigua Charter Yacht Show where he is expected to host captains and crew operators of Super Yachts from around the world.
The event is being organised by Yacht Club Port de Plaisance as “a night dedicated to celebrating all that St. Maarten now has to offer.” During the event Minister Johnson will update guests on St. Maarten’s recovery efforts post-Irma and on the efforts made by the Government of St. Maarten to restore its longstanding status as the Caribbean’s primary superyacht hub. Minister Johnson will mention new marina facilities, lowered crime rates and a cleaner island based on a dynamic approach by the Ministry of TEATT in collaboration with local environmental groups to “ensure proper safeguards are in place for the preservation of marinas and marine life.”
Johnson said Boyd and Yacht Club Port de Plaisance like many others were “excellent” marine partners. He commended Boyd on especially his initiative to restore the Marker Buoys that were destroyed by the hurricane and his swift call to action to prepare for the arrival of the new mega and superyacht season.
Mr. Boyd thanked Minister Johnson for his words of encouragement, but made it clear, that the management and staff of the marina led by Operations Director, Jesse Peterson, was where the real gratitude should be placed. “They never lost focus and they never gave up” A dock is basically concrete and bollards, but a Marina / Yacht Club is really about the people responsible for the experience our guests receive. Our team is one of the best and I am truly blessed to have them with me. Work is presently being done by predominantly local companies to restore the entire Yacht Facilities such as the bathrooms and offices which were damaged or completely destroyed by the hurricane. However, he said that the work is near completion.
Mr. Boyd will also be travelling to Antigua on Saturday and will be taking one of the local DJ’s, Bossman from Soggy Dollar to entertain the Captains and crew members when they host the Dinner and Information event.