Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher on Thursday disclosed that the current hotel occupancy from now through the end of April averages out at 85 per cent, verifying reports that the Minister has been getting from partners in the industry about having experienced a very strong high season. Last minute bookings could push the percentage even higher.
The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) presented a report on occupancy to the Minister’s cabinet compiled amongst a large selection of the island’s large and small hotel properties, 45 properties in total. Of the 45 properties queried, 16 reported 100 percent occupancy, completely booked out through April.
Among the properties reporting: Sonesta Maho reported occupancy of over 90 per cent, Sonesta Great Bay over 80 percent, Divi Little Bay is approaching 90 percent, Holland House is completely booked out, Baker’s Suites completely booked out, Oyster Bay Resort is over 95 percent, Simpson Bay Resort over 95 percent. Most of the smaller properties reported 100 percent occupancy.
The Minister noted that while St. Maarten, as was noted in the Bahamas recently at the CHA conference, is in the top 10 contributors to the region’s seventh consecutive year of stay-over visitor growth, tourism partners must continue to work together to make the destination more competitive.
“We cannot be complacent and act as if we don’t have competition. I am very pleased with the numbers reported by the STB, but we have to observe the competition and be creative to get ahead where we need to and stay ahead where we must,” the Minister said. This means, she said, looking at increased airlift, improved inter-regional connectivity, new properties and supporting marketing programs targeted at key markets.
The Minister also pointed out how vital the role of Carnival is in April for the destination. “We cannot overlook the fact that many of these bookings are for Carnival. It once again underlines the importance of the festival for St. Maarten in terms of extending our high season will into April and the first week of May. By this time much of our competition have started the beginning of their slow season. Carnival gives us an advantage,” she said.