That Anguilla reported some 1,500 stayover arrivals since reopening (see related story) is important for St. Maarten/St. Martin too. Over the years, the island has very much become a hub for travel to the region via Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA), L’Espérance Airport at Grand Case and the various ferry terminals.
The latter is crucial for Winair, which has been struggling since the pandemic began early last year, despite a 25 per cent across-the-board pay cut and a loan, with a second one now requested. Especially St. Barths is an essential market for the government-owned carrier.
Both those other islands cater to high-end visitors including private jet and mega-yacht owners, which is obviously an added advantage also for local marinas. The significance of this transit function should not be underestimated.
The recent resumption of twice-daily commercial flights to Saba and St. Eustatius is another positive development in this regard, with traffic expected to gradually increase. Use of the Electronic Health Authorisation System (EHAS) will hopefully promote that process, along with future vaccination passports.
It would be good as well if ferries could start running again from Marigot to Blowing Point, where a new facility with testing and isolation space is being built.
“The Friendly Island” must get back to its prominent role in Northeast Caribbean tourism, the sooner the better.