UP Statement on SHTA By MP Sylvia Meyers-Olivacce

The rant by Independent Member of Parliament Frans Richardson about the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) and its President Emil Lee is out of order. Richardson should have respect for the SHTA that represents approximately 200 businesses and employs thousands of workers.

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We live in a democratic and open society and the constitution guarantees our right to speak out but also have respect for the position of others, and address them in a respectful manner, not defamatory. Individuals and organizations shouldn’t feel threatened by a Government official, especially a Member of Parliament, who represents the highest law making body of the country.

The outburst character assassination by Member of Parliament Frans Richardson was disrespectful, and unprofessional and un-becoming of a Member of Parliament, and he should apologize. The SHTA did not say anything negative about the workers of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, and instead Richardson invented the notion that the SHTA was looking down the nose of the hard working civil servants and that it had insulted them.

As Richardson correctly pointed out, the SHTA has had a long established relationship with the civil servants of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and worked hand in hand with them over the years.

Our economy is based on tourism. The SHTA pointed out its concern of the impact of structural changes within the Ministry of Tourism. It did not jump into personal issues like Member of Parliament Frans Richardson did. The private sector organization stuck to the issues.

This is sending bad signals to the country’s business community and may be an indication of the future handling of our economy especially when entrepreneurs or other organizations voice their opinion about issues that concern the people of St. Maarten.

The SHTA pointed out its concerns with not having met with the new Minister of Tourism as well as the way things were handled with the past Acting Director of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau. This lady is a professional and was brought in from the private sector to make a positive contribution to the development of the economy. The Government belittled her by offering her less money for a new six-month contract. What message is Government sending to persons working in the private sector who would like to contribute to the development of the country by playing a role in its development such as the services that were provided by a local private sector business?

The other concern of the private sector organization SHTA was branding and strategy, and what changes are forthcoming, and how this would impact negatively or positively the tourism sector, the largest sector that employs the majority of the people of this country.

Recent statistics showed that strategies and branding by the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and its staff were yielding positive results where there was a 14.5 per cent increase in hotel room and timeshare occupancy during the past high season. This would be a branding and strategy that should be maintained, continued and not discouraged.

United Peoples (UP) Party

Parliamentary Faction, Member of Parliament (MP)

Faction Leader Hon. Sylvia Meyers-Olivacce

House of Parliament, Wilhelmina Str. #1, Philipsburg St. Maarten Tel. +1 721 542-2929, 542-0909, EMAIL: up********@gm***.com