Tourism Minister tours damaged properties with SMSPA President

Tourism Minister Stuart Johnson recently met with Nzinga Lake President of the St. Maarten Small Properties Association SMSPA for an update on the challenges and progress being made with small hotels.
Johnson toured three small hotels, LAMA Guest house, Joshua Rose Guest House and Kary’s Guest House, as part of his commitment to working with the hotels on St. Maarten as they repair their properties post Irma. He spoke to the hotel operators who explained some of the challenges they face with repairs.
The hotel industry on St. Maarten suffered a massive blow when the most powerful hurricane on record, hurricane Irma, blew in for a short spell, destroying many properties in her path. Since then several of the larger resorts have already started repairs, and some have reopened their doors to guests, despite not being fully operational. But very worrisome is the challenges faced by small properties, some of whom still await insurance settlements so they can repair their businesses, many of which have been in families for generations.
Minister Johnson quickly reached out to some of the small hotel operators who have been struggling and promised to get support from the government to assist in their recovery.
Considering that many of the hotels are ten or 14 rooms, their limited financial resources will make it difficult for a full recovery on time, which has a long-term negative impact on their ability to provide service. The Minister stated that the small hotels were significant not just for the economy but because of the role they play in expanding and solidifying the regional hub function of Princess Juliana International Airport.
To support these smaller properties, the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication TEATT will be working closely with the SMSPA to raise the profile of the small hotels in recognition of the significant role they play in attracting regional visitors to the destination. During the annual carnival celebration or just for shopping or an extended weekend of partying, the smaller hotels have consistently been the mainstay for the visitors from the neighbouring islands.
Johnson hopes to be able through the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau STB to be able to tailor special promotional programs to promote the distinct individual features of the small hotels on the island as a means of helping them develop their clientele and generate year-round heads in beds.
While working with hotels on their rebuilding, Johnson said that a critical focus is ensuring that we are already putting the necessary action plans in place for destination marketing. This should also consider our real identity and what we offer which must include the smaller properties. The ultimate goal is maximizing visitor arrivals once the hotels are reopened.