The St. Maarten flag flew proudly on Cole Bay Hill over the weekend as the country welcomed back cruise passengers after an absence of 15 months. They boarded the Celebrity Millennium for a seven-night sail homeporting on the island, a first ever on that scale.
This is undoubtedly a significant step on the way to recovery of the local tourism economy from the unprecedented coronavirus-related crisis. If more follow suit by homeporting here that would be great, but also major Caribbean industry players elsewhere – particularly in US territory – will need to get on track to achieve the kind of numbers of the past.
It looks like that may start happening by the end of the month, which along with added and new flights inspire hope of a decent summer season, with pent-up stayover vacation demand due to the pandemic and its effect on travel especially last winter. It remains important to ease and simplify entrance requirements when responsibly possible certainly for certified fully-vaccinated visitors, as other places are doing too.
Perhaps even more crucial is to keep the current spread of the UK variant of COVID-19 under control. Recent figures from both sides of the island have not been encouraging regarding new infections as well as the vaccination rate.
The former must go down and the latter up, to prevent overburdening limited local medical resources but also to remain a relatively safe destination that can compete on the regional hospitality market. That is why getting vaccinated is not just about you, but about your loved ones, friends, neighbours and ultimately the entire population’s wellbeing, including their livelihood.
Refusing to do so without good reason makes you a liability to society.