Published On: Sun, Sep 5th, 2021

St. Maarten shows strong growth in stay-over arrivals

PHILIPSBURG — The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the tourism industry to its knees, but the latest numbers issued by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) show that St. Maarten is getting out of this slump in a hurry.

Out of 24 destinations that reported international arrivals in 2021, twenty reported declines. Of the seven destinations reporting stay-over visitors for the period January-July 2021, Aruba reported 76.5 percent growth, closely followed by St. Maarten with 70 percent. The Dominican Republic also did well with an increase of 58.8 percent. But four other destinations were less fortunate. Anguilla reported a dramatic decline of 43.1 percent, followed by Curacao (-22.2 percent), Antigua and Barbuda (-10.6 percent) and St. Lucia (-3.9 percent). All percentages are compared to the same period of the year 2019.

While these numbers seem impressive, especially for St. Maarten and Aruba, the tourism-volume is still below the level of 2019. But it is clear that St. Maarten is rebounding faster than its competitors in the region. Currently, the volume is just 20 percent below that of 2019.

St. Maarten is also beating the ECCU-median and the tourism-oriented Caribbean median by a sturdy margin.

Related article: MP Ludmilla De Weever: “St. Maarten experienced the fastest-growing stayover tourism recovery…”

All this is good news for the local tourism-industry and for companies that depend on the movement of foreign visitors in the region. Because regular airlift is still not fully restored, this is the time for charter-flight operators to grab a piece of the cake.

The demand is there and while these charters may not bring in big numbers, they do bring in visitors with deep pockets. That is again a boon for other businesses like restaurants, cab drivers and entertainment centers like casinos.

The data released by the CTO show that there is a strong demand for St. Maarten. This should not be a reason for the whole industry to sit back and relax. On the contrary – our tourism product is not a static entity – at least, it shouldn’t be. There is always room for improvement. To keep those visitors coming, and to turn them into ambassadors for our destination, St. Maarten must provide top quality on all levels: accommodation, food, infrastructure, customer service, safety and security – to name just a few issues that require constant attention.

It is all doable and the time to do it is now.