Attending Air Canada Vacations’ recent virtual event (see related story) was no doubt a worthwhile effort. The country had become St. Maarten’s second biggest tourist source market after the US and grew in significance to the point that Canadian travel organisation Sunwing took over the former Great Bay Beach Hotel in 2017, only to see it destroyed soon after by Hurricane Irma.
The plan is to now build a Planet Hollywood Resort there, but Canadians have kept visiting in the meantime, with 27,736 arrivals in 2019. This went down to 9,364 in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and up to August only 1,557 had come so far this year for the same reason.
The country faces some tough months ahead with payroll support and income assistance ending, so for many this will be a make-it-or-break-it winter season. Their livelihood depends on a strong economic recovery in which Canadian guests can hopefully play an important role, along with their American counterparts and others, including from France and the Netherlands.
With the help of its hospitality industry partners, The Friendly Island needs to seriously get back to “everybody’s business” full speed ahead.