The commissioner responsible for economic affairs, Frans Richardson, recently met with senior executives of the harbor group of companies. Purpose of the meeting was to solicit information regarding their views on the current economic situation.
Attending the meeting with the commissioner and his delegation were Keith Franca, Managing Director of St. Maarten Ports Authority and Mark Mingo, CEO of the St. Maarten Harbor Holding Company.
They informed Commissioner Richardson that the cruise sector is seeing a double digital decline. Estimated recovery period is believed to be anywhere between 1 year to 18 months.
Ongoing or planned measures to alleviate the current impact of the economic decline include a shift in marketing strategy. Direct marketing targeting the individual cruise ship visitor is being pursued rather than general marketing.
Other initiatives are a road-show marketing of the island, investment in cargo facilities, in order to promote transshipment sector and the fuelling of ships to increase revenue flow.
Commissioner Richardson was informed about strategic agreements with Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise lines, which are expected to ensure approximately 1.1 million in cruise arrivals.
Suggestions discussed for structural short-term solutions, in collaboration with government, include stimulation of more activity in Philipsburg, increased police presence as deterrent to crime and control of rising food prices.