Published On: Sun, Mar 3rd, 2024

Tourism industry is chasing the numbers of its top years

PHILIPSBURG — The tourism industry is slowly but surely getting back on its feet, but the numbers, presented by the Department of Statistics (STAT) show that we are still far from the top years 2014 and 2016. In 2014, St. Maarten welcomed 2,001,996 cruise arrivals, the first and so far only time the industry beat the two million mark. In 2016 stay-over arrivals peaked at 528,153.

Stay-over tourism experienced its worst year in 2020 when, due to the corona-pandemic, just 106,425 visitors arrived. A year later the number increased to 248,852 and since then the numbers kept going up. In 2022 there were 372,208 visitors and last year it increased to 395,053. It is an increase but it is still 25.2 percent below the top year 2016.

STAT sticks to the numbers and to comparisons of 2023 with the two previous years: an increase of 6 percent over 2022, and 59 percent compared to 2021.

Cruise Arrivals hit a low in 2021 with 232,519, but 2023 shows a must more palatable number: 1,318,177.  That is 683,819 fewer visitors than in 2014 – a decrease of 34.1 percent.

STAT also released data of a tourism exit survey. It shows that 58 percent of stay-over visitors came to our island for the first time and that 46 percent had visited five or more times. The average stay was 7 days in 2023, though Europeans spent more time: 13 days. Americans spent the most money per day ($161.67) and Latin-Americans the least ($52.77).

Cruise-arrivals spent on average $142.56 per day whereby Americans spent the most ($176.39) and Africans and Asians the least ($23.13). Most of this money (52%) was spent on jewelry.

Fun fact; a breakdown of spending categories suggest that nobody spent money in strip clubs.