Published On: Thu, Mar 7th, 2019

St. Maarten closer to finalizing Pre-Clearance

Minister of Tourism Stuart Johnson - 6 Mar 2019 - Pre-Clearance

PHILIPSBURG — St. Maarten is now closer to providing pre-clearance for aircrafts to the United States of America at the Princess Juliana International Airport, said Minister responsible for Tourism Stuart Johnson at the Council of Ministers press conference on Wednesday. He said that he only recently met with representatives of the pre-clearance committee and the officials of the Princess Juliana International Airport and the Council of Ministers.

The discussions included some of the pending concerns that needed to be addressed such as the extension of the concessions which falls under the Tourism Ministry. There is also a draft bi-lateral agreement that has to be sent soon which is the first step in finalizing the process,” said Johnson. He pointed out that this means that St. Maarten is ahead in handling the United States pre-clearance.

He sees the pre-clearance as an important step for St. Maarten restoration plan which is necessary for the country. The minister will be meeting with members of Parliament to inform them of the progress and benefits of the pre-clearance and where it will take the island in the future.

Publisher’s notes:

During the press briefing minister Johnson began his opening remarks on a personal note on where he stands on the Theo Heyliger situation. He didn’t really say where he stood on the situation except that he stood for St. Maarten and wished the family and friends much strength.

The minister explained how a delegation of the US pre-clearance committee met with the Council of Ministers. This delegation will also meet with Parliament in a closed door session to answer any questions the members of Parliament may have.

The minister noted that 39th annual Heineken Regatta had been successfully concluded and he thanked all who made the regatta a success this year. The minister commended the many people who took ownership of the regatta and contributed in various ways. This is the first time that the organizers were able to source many items needed locally, the minister pointed out. A necessary impact study will be done this year with regards to the 40th regatta celebration next year, the minister concluded this topic.

Minister Johnson then said that he is aware that the public transportation service on St. Maarten is not what it should be. An issue every government has struggled with for years. He mentioned the complaints about the lack of access to buses in certain areas. The minister explained that a local company has been engaged to conduct an extensive research project on the public bus system reform on St. Maarten. This research will concentrate on all areas of public transportation, including frequency, route coverage, infrastructure and a demand for travel patterns. We expect at the end of the four months a solid recommendation on how to reform our public transportation system, the minister said. This research will include all stakeholders and once it is completed the findings will be reviewed to look at the strategies and pathways toward implementation of the recommendations.

The minister talked about the gaming industry forum that will be held from June 4th to 7th at the Sonesta Maho Resort wherein the gaming industry on St. Maarten will receive a wealth of information from the 4th annual Dutch Caribbean Anti Money Laundering and Gaming Regulation Forum. Following his visit to Aruba last year and seeing the importance of the event, the minister promised to host the forum on St. Maarten as the government is looking to implement its own gaming board here on St. Maarten. The forum is in the final stages of preparation for the event, the minister happily made mention. He said the forum will consists from representatives of the international governance and risk institute who consult and provide trainings to over 30 countries in the both public and the private sector. The objective is to further sensitize and motivate operators in AML, Anti-Money Laundering, the minister explained. As a country St. Maarten has the opportunity to establish a gaming control board to regulate gaming. This forum brings together people from the  banking industry, the gaming industy and different government representatives from across the region. It provides a unique networking opportunity where we can learn best practices and benefit from the experiences of others. The minister looks forward to everyone concerned participating.

Finally, the minister also met with the Ambassador of Canada to the Netherlands, Sabine Nölke, on Tuesday this week. The ambassador expressed her commitment to establishing a trade and economic relationship between St. Maarten and Canada, the minister explained.