PM: "Significant Development with Regards to Visa Policies of St. Maarten"
The Cabinet of the Prime Minister announced on Monday that through the work of the Department of Foreign Relations new visa regulations in line with international and Dutch Kingdom standards will soon be in effect for St. Maarten. These new regulations will benefit the economy of the island and in particular the tourism sector. St. Maarten is positioned within the Caribbean region with a more American and Canadian influence rather than European and the visa policy should be in line with the International Tourism of the United States. During a joint meeting on Visa Policy and Border Control on the eighth of January it was decided to extend the "Colombian regeling", for which persons who have a multi visa entry to the US, Canada and Schengen Countries are exempt from needing a visa to visit St. Maarten. Nationals from China, India and the United Emirates visiting the island are also exempt from having a visa requirement.
During recent talks with the Consul General of China for St. Maarten the possibility was discussed for cooperation on bringing tourists from China who may be in transit to United States. China is predicted to be the top tourist market for the United States of America by 2018 with over 1 million visitors to the USA last year, spending an average of US$7000, – each.
Similarly, a large part of St. Maarten’s tourist and business industry is in the hands of Dutch nationals with an Indian origin and visa exemption would facilitate business and family trips to St. Maarten. The United Arab Emirates who use St. Maarten as hub and who often visit on private airplanes and luxury yachts during the tourism high season and bringing much needed revenue into the country are also exempt.
During the consultative meeting St. Maarten had no objection to the proposal from Aruba to exempt Peru and Colombia from requiring a visa, although for Colombia there needed to be an investigation into the effects of possibly border criminality.
Immigration and border control also proposed to extend an exemption to nationals of countries who already posses multiple-entry visas to countries from the Schengen Area, particularly for nationals from the UAE, Bahrain, Belarus, China, India, Kuwait, Ukraine, Oman, Qatar, Russia and South Africa.
According to Prime Minister Wescot-Williams it is essential that Country St. Maarten, has very clear directives relating to visas and immigration and border control; "As Minister of General Affairs in charge of Foreign Relations I would like to make it clear that it is necessary that we have everything in place relating to the visa regulations for the Country. Government, in the form of the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Foreign Relations, is working diligently to ensure that all visa requirements are clearly stipulated and enforced," commented Prime Minister Wescot-Williams. There will be a conference discussing various Visa Related matters within the Dutch Kingdom planned to be held in St. Maarten in May of 2014.