That Diamond Resorts intends to reopen its two Hurricane Irma-damaged timeshare properties (see Tuesday paper) in June 2020 is welcome news. Although some might have hoped they could already be available for the next high season starting in December, the commitment reportedly made to a visiting government delegation for a return one year from now is what’s most important.
For one thing, former personnel who stayed un- or underemployed for more than a year now have at least some prospect of being rehired. What’s more, another six-month Emergency Income Support and Training Programme (EISTP) cycle following the one that recently started may still be required for this group and others so they can keep getting a bi-weekly stipend, small transport allowance and – crucially – medical coverage until then.
With 1,087 participants in the various courses and enrolment up by 36 per cent, the need to continue this programme financed from the Dutch-sponsored Trust Fund managed by the World Bank for the time being seems clear. The added benefit is a better-educated workforce and consequently enhanced service.
The Flamingo Beach and Royal Palm Beach resorts are a major part of the island’s room inventory that is slowly but surely rising back to pre-Irma levels. Other promising developments in that sense appear to be taking place at Sapphire Beach Club and The Cliff in the Cupecoy area.
It would also be interesting to know the plans of The Westin Dawn Beach Resort and Spa, where the main hotel remains closed and only the timeshare part is open. However, with construction on a bigger Planet Hollywood to replace the demolished former Great Bay Beach Resort starting soon, it’s safe to say the Dutch side’s hospitality industry is clearly rebounding strongly.
And it’s not just about rebuilding, but also upgrading visitor accommodations and facilities as well as human resources to deliver an improved tourism product.