Saint Barthélemy tourism leaders issue plea for St. Maarten airport overhaul

Saint Barthélemy tourism leaders issue  plea for St. Maarten airport overhaul

TEATT Minister Arthur Lambriex (right) with Immigration director Jocelyn Levenstone (second from right) at the airport above the new departure hall, discussing Immigration matters.

GUSTAVIA/SIMPSON BAY--In a compelling letter addressed to Brian Mingo, Chief Executive Officer of Princess Juliana Internation Airport’s (PJIA’s) operating company PJIAE, the Saint Barthélemy Hotels and Villas Association has raised serious concerns about the negative experiences faced by travellers using the airport. The association has called for immediate attention to rectify the issues plaguing the transit process.

  Passengers in transit have reportedly found themselves disoriented upon arrival, with numerous complaints citing the absence of proper signage and an unfavourable attitude from ground personnel. The luggage retrieval process has been a major pain point, with wait times extending up to two hours and inadequate facilities, including a lack of information, Wi-Fi access, and soundproofing in the hall.

  The inadequacy of the baggage carousel, particularly during peak hours in the early afternoon when international flights arrive, has exacerbated the problem. Additionally, Customs and Immigration services have been deemed insufficient, hampering the overall efficiency of transit.

  Traditionally, travellers have resorted to VIP services to ensure a smooth transit experience at PJIA. However, recent reports suggest that these services are currently disorganised, further adding to the challenges faced by passengers.

  According to Saint Barthélemy Hotels and Villas Association, an increasing number of visitors are forced to take the ferry to reach their final destination, particularly due to issues with the last flights of Winair scheduled between 3:00pm and 5:30pm.

  Olivier Leroy, President of the Saint Barthélemy Hotels and Villas Association, expressed deep concern over the current situation. Saint Barthélemy, representing the fourth-largest market in passenger volume and the first in business, holds a crucial position in PJIA’s economic success.

  The association is urging prompt action to enhance the transit experience for travellers, emphasising the integral role it plays in the tourism-driven economy of the islands. Leroy remains available for further discussions on the matter, expressing confidence in Mingo's cooperation to address the challenges at hand.

  Amidst the challenges faced by the tourism sector, the urgent need for enhancements at PJIA has become a focal point. Stakeholders are closely monitoring the situation, anticipating a prompt and efficient response to guarantee a smooth experience for visitors and protect the economic advantages linked to the region's tourism industry.

The Daily Herald

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