The Caribbean Tourism Organization, or CTO, is holding their annual State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) beginning today through Friday, October 13, on the Caribbean island of Grenada. This is the first time that members from all of the Caribbean islands will convene since hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the region.
Earlier today, at the Caribbean Destination press briefings, each of the tourism representatives from Sint Maarten and Saint Martin gave presentations and answered questions from the press. For Sint Maarten, Director of Tourism, Rolando Brison, gave his presentation first. I will publish a separate post shortly with the recap from Saint Martin’s President of Tourism, Valarie Damaseau, comments.
Here are the key takeaways from Brison’s presentation:
- Airport opens on Tuesday, October 10, with service from American, Delta, Insel, Winair and PAWA Dominica
- Tents will be utilized to process incoming passengers temporarily until facility is repaired
- Airport structurally intact with most of the damage to electronic systems
- Coordinating with other islands that rely on SXM as hub for passenger flow to determine demand
- Only day flights until airfield lighting is completely repaired
- Cruise port will open on November 11, with at least 1-2 cruises expected per day
- Meeting today with Royal Caribbean, who are eager to restart service by early November
- Dutch side hotels experienced a loss of 70% of the total available rooms
- There were 4,000 rooms in Sint Maarten before Irma
- 2,800 rooms are currently not habitable, according to a survey conducted by the government
- Goal is to have 50% of available rooms (2,000) and related facilities ready by year end 2017
- Working to ensure there is hotel capacity for incoming tourists but that information is not fully available
- Between Sonesta and Westin there are over 800 rooms
- Sonesta may be partially open by end of 2017
- Westin will be open later in 2018
- Time share owners are expected to return to the island soon
- Estimated damage in Sint Maarten is in excess of $1 billion
- Estimates still need to be finalize by Dutch and Sint Maarten governments
- GDP for Sint Maarten is approximately $600 million ($1 billion for entire island)
Please help rebuild SXM and give today. Click here to visit the SXM Strong donate page. Thank you!
Here is the full video from the Caribbean Destination press briefing today. Brison begins with around -1:45:00 remaining.