Frontier Airlines starting two weekly flights out of Miami and Orlando to Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) effective July 10 (see related story) is obviously welcome news. Both are on Saturday, which is when timeshare weeks traditionally start and finish at most major resorts.
Some point out that such a low-cost carrier markets St. Maarten/St. Martin as a mass tourism spot, but that – like it or not – is also part of the product along with, for example, hosting private jets and mega-yachts. From relatively low budget to high-end vacations, the island basically offers it all.
That the destination was chosen among only three new ones in the region by the US airline speaks volumes. Besides, in addition to more airlift out of its main source market North America, increased competition regarding affordable fares will be more than welcome, as the cost to get here is an often-heard complaint by especially repeat visitors.
These developments inspire hope for the future, but significant recovery of the dominant local hospitality industry after an unprecedented year-long coronavirus-related socioeconomic crisis is going to take time. Until then, continued support for affected local businesses and their employees as well as individuals made possible with liquidity loans from the Netherlands will remain essential.
The latter is even more evident after today’s news about the Food Aid programme of the Dutch Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations BZK coordinated by the Netherlands Red Cross and St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) finalising at the end of April, following two extensions. This effort reportedly reached 4,800 households in need with meals, food parcels or grocery vouchers during these past 10 months, so it seems important that current talks with The Hague on funding for an alternative campaign of the local government prove successful.
One would therefore want to hope that Thursday’s approval by the majority in Parliament of a letter from Chairman Rolando Brison to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs on the controversial United Nations (UN) petition that led the Kingdom Council of Ministers in The Hague to suspend financial assistance helps. The document was sent to BZK State Secretary Raymond Knops to try to convince him to release a pending amount of 39 million Netherlands Antillean guilders for the second quarter of 2021 already underway.
He should keep in mind that many regular folks not actively involved with politics have been struggling for their sheer survival not only now, but since the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Irma back in September 2017. They are deserving of consideration.