Here and now

Here and now

The “save the summer” agreement St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) made with the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) to sell the destination (see related story) is exactly the kind of action called for in this column earlier to generate business during the traditional low season. The latter is urgently needed after two years of coronavirus-related crisis while still recovering from devastating Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
Pent-up travel demand during the pandemic creates the potential for a strong summer and news of the island’s biggest market the US dropping testing requirements for incoming passengers effective Sunday seems quite timely in that regard. There has been no word yet from local authorities on changes to St. Maarten’s own testing rules, Electronic Health Authorization System (EHAS) and mandatory SXM Protection Plan COVID-19 insurance, but hopefully it won’t be long.
After all, Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA Omar Ottley, certainly in his current capacity as acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT), no doubt realises the importance of getting “heads in beds” over the coming months to keep the country socioeconomically afloat. As such, he in any case signed to invest US $25,000 in a renewed Expedia campaign that has apparently proven its value.
The private sector since reported raising more than double that amount in matching funds within 24 hours, a good sign of continued confidence in the dominant hospitality industry. Although what both the Dutch and French sides combined spend on promotion and marketing annually obviously remains peanuts compared to the budgets of other vacation spots in the region, using limited resources in a targeted manner can yield a lot of “bang for the buck” with significant results.
Again, most people have nothing against reasonable and ultimately beneficial reforms to ensure long-term sustainable development. However, this is very much about the here and now.

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