Port St. Maarten supports Rotary Campaign of Who Needs Tourists; Calls for Tourism Authority to be Established as soon as possible

Port St. Maarten Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo says he fully supports the Rotary Club of St. Maarten tourism awareness project of “Who Needs Tourists?”
Last weekend the first of several tourism awareness banners were placed along the Walter Nisbett Road, along the Pondfill. The objective of the Rotary Club of St. Maarten is to help the community understand just how important tourism is to our economy.
“I commend the Rotary Club for this great initiative. Tourism overall is the most important development for our economy. It’s the bread and butter of every citizen residing here in the country. If tomorrow comes and tourism was non-existent, the island would come to a complete standstill, and therefore we must strategically develop what we have built.
“We have a National Tourism Authority (NTA) structure which has been pending for years. The NTA is needed now more than ever. We have to get off the bench and get this organization established as soon as possible. It’s taking too long! There is a whole lot of competition out there and they are moving forward and being creative and innovative.
“Country St. Maarten can ill afford to sit down on its laurels. We have work to do, and it’s every day from sunrise to sunset in order to guarantee the wellbeing and existence of our national tourism economy and the quality of life of our people,” CEO Mark Mingo said on Wednesday.
Mingo added that the NTA can spearhead the challenge of building a strong brand name for the country’s tourism industry in order to be able to maintain and build the sector further when looking at new emerging and aggressive tourism markets.
Mingo added that Port St. Maarten continues to do well surpassing the one millionth cruise passenger in mid-May, one month ahead. Annually Port St. Maarten has been hitting the one millionth cruise passenger mark around mid-June.
The countries cruise sector has grown in leaps and bounds over the past 50-years. Port St Maarten celebrated its 50th anniversary early June. On June 3rd, 1964 the A.C. Wathey Pier was inaugurated.
Cruise tourism has grown from 100,000+ cruise passenger (105,000) in 1980 to 1,785,670 in 2013, and ranks number four in the Caribbean region.
Cruise tourism is a major economic contributor to the Gross National Product (GDP) of the country, bringing in close to half a billion dollars annually into the economy. Port St. Maarten was second in the top five destinations with US$356.2 million in expenditures by passengers and crew; according to the Business Research & Economic Advisors (BREA) September 2012 study. The top five destinations have US$1.43 billion in direct expenditures, accounting for 72 per cent of the total cruise tourism expenditures among the 21 destinations, and therefore cruise destination St. Maarten is a major player in tourism.
The cruise sector also employs a total of 8,123 persons with a wage income of US$160 million.