Commissioner of Tourism on crime situation on St. Maarten; Says tourism product threatened


The following is a statement by the commissioner of tourism and economic affairs, Frans Richardson on crime situation on St. Maarten & also on the tourism product threatened:

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As commissioner of tourism and economic affairs, I want to express grave concern with regards to the present crime situation on St. Maarten. I am of the opinion that the crime wave has the potential to harm St. Maarten’s tourism product.

No one would want to visit a destination that is not considered safe.

While St. Maarten has been reaping the fruits of a re-branding effort and increased airlift possibilities, crime may hamper the island’s efforts to make more money in hard times by enticing visitors to St. Maarten.

Even minor crimes like pick-pocketing and harassment of visitors can have a disturbing effect on tourism for the island – since it is not uncommon that incidents are widely publicized on, for instance, internet sites.

We cannot afford to lose our edge over other destinations, simply because of a small group of individuals choosing to target both resident and visitors in acts of crimes.

As a community, we must place a higher priority on stamping out or, at least, curbing criminal behavior in St. Maarten.

We have to understand how tourism accounts for most of our economy, is still the largest foreign exchange earner and employs many people in tourism related sectors.

Reports of the past few days indicate that St. Maarten is positioning itself to do well in the upcoming important winter travel season.

But, if crime is not brought under control soon, travel agents and tour operators will begin worrying about rising crime and will have a difficult time selling St. Maarten as a destination.

Violence and crime rates will always be a consideration for tourists when choosing a destination.


While some may not consider violent crime as a high-level concern for destination St. Maarten right now, we cannot idly sit by and ignore the situation until it is too late.

On crime in general, we have to recognize that incidents involving the loss of lives are to be condemned and cannot be tolerated, under any circumstance.

The public needs to understand though that the combating of crime is not only the job of the police and the justice system. It is also a task for parents, social institutions, the church, schools, the business sector and the average citizen.

As we are weeks away from becoming a country, aspects of security has to become our collective responsibility, recognizing that we no longer have a Central Government to blame or call on.

We must join hands and support efforts aimed at stopping criminal offenders from terrorizing residents and visitors alike and find strategic partnerships focused on the safety of our community.

It is left to each and every one of us to join the fight against crime, to recognize the effects of crime on our community and how this threatens our economy.

Commissioner Frans Richardson

July 22, 2010