Today’s report about the Ministries of Public Health, Social Affairs and Labor VSA and of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (EYCS) facilitating the use of a government-owned pavilion by Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) is encouraging. That kind of practical cooperation when it comes to the national interest may seem obvious but is not always so evident.
The terminal being only partially available pending its post-Hurricane Irma reconstruction combined with the need for COVID-19 health screening for incoming travellers required a temporary solution preferably without adverse financial implications under already difficult circumstances. The added space in arrivals area should allow what was called a “smoother throughput” process.
The good news is that some 3,500 passengers can reportedly be expected on peak days during the upcoming high season and even more from January. This forecast, if correct, would confirm that the island’s tourism economy is – slowly but surely – recovering and will continue to do so in the next few months.
It is important to prepare well for the influx of visitors and prevent a further spread of the virus not just at the airport and harbour once cruise tourism gets going again, but everywhere else. Wearing a facemask when appropriate, frequent hand sanitising and social distancing remain the order of the day.
This concerns the safety and wellbeing of the local population as well as guests who provide their livelihood. To be successful again St. Maarten/St. Martin must also be known as a relatively low-risk and secure destination.