Late last week Sint Maarten’s government announced that on July 1 international flights would be allowed to resume arriving from Europe and North America. Flights were shut down on March 17, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the island was placed in quarantine mode for nearly three months.
While the resumption of flights is a welcome step for local businesses there’s still a long way to go until tourism gets anywhere close to normal on the island. Hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30, peaking from August through October, and marks the offseason where tourism numbers normally lag.
The offseason is arguably the best time to slowly bring back tourism. It gives the island time to ensure it’s implementing proper health and testing protocols that are necessary to safely welcome back tourists. It’s also a good time to work out any kinks that would be a much bigger issue if this was in the middle of the high season.
Sint Maarten has recently reported that there are no new cases of COVID-19 within the last 44 days. There are also no active cases of COVID-19 on the Dutch side of the island.
Of course, this is great news for the island and presents an obvious opportunity to move forward from the recent quarantine. The real test remains to be seen when the island reopens to international flights and starts to welcome visitors from outside its current bubble. Of specific concern will be tourists coming in from the U.S., where the pandemic remains on the rise.
It’s rumored that the European Union will likely ban travelers from the United States for the near future. That ban would likely be in effect for French Saint Martin, which is considered part of the E.U., but it’s unknown how it would be enforced.
There are lots of questions that remain to be answered. The good news is that things are moving in the right direction.