PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Justice Raphael Boasman addressed the Council of Minister’s press briefing on Wednesday, March 22.
He explained his absence, reporting that he was participating in Cuba in the Ordinary Ministers meeting of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS). St. Maarten is an associate member, and in that capacity he participated there.
The agenda of that meeting pertained to the protection of the Caribbean Sea. “The importance and the protection of the Caribbean Sea currency is that piece of water that basically joins all of us, and is very important to our livelihood,” Minister Boasman said.
“So that was a major point of discussion, and the way the organization is put together. There are a number of donor States who finance certain projects, and the concentration would be on doing research, and working with environmental groups to see how best we can take whatever measures are needed to make sure that we protect that piece of Caribbean Sea,” Minister Boasman continued.
Also discussed was transportation via boat, sea and air within the Caribbean region.
“The air and sea transportation are not only looking at the visitor’s part, but also cargo and how and what can be done to facilitate the transportation of people and goods between the islands,” he said.
As the Minister was the only Minister from a country within the Kingdom, St. Maarten had observer status while Aruba, and Curaçao are associate states. “I was delegation leader of the Kingdom, and one of the other things that we sought cooperation for, which is a problem that sometimes too often is downplayed, is that of human smuggling, because we believe at times many lives are lost at sea, and we may not even know about it,” the Minister informed.
“It is a serious problem and more cooperation between the countries in the Caribbean is needed to combat this. Also the drugs and weapons smuggling, so from the justice point of view, we look at how we brought that forward where cooperation would be needed,” he said.
The Minister also reported that in collaboration with the Dutch Ambassador a lunch was hosted at the residence of the Dutch Ambassador for Caribbean Ambassadors, where St. Maarten has put in a request and is seeking associate membership of CARICOM.
“So the lunch was kind of meant to lobby among those present, so when that comes up for discussion that they would support the requests of St. Maarten and also the other islands in the other countries in the Kingdom,” Minister Boasman said.
At that meeting, Minister Boasman stated that Japan, the United Arab Emirates and Palestine were approved and inducted as observers to the Association of Caribbean States.
From there, the Minister went on to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he attended the Seatrade Conference. He stated his realization of “the magnitude of the Cruise industry worldwide, and while many businesses are doubtful of their future, the cruise industry, the cruise business was able to project 10 years from now a tremendous growth. And you’re talking about a projected 50 something billion dollar industry.”
“This is evidenced by the amount of new cruise ships that are on order by the different companies, and those cruise ships, once they are ordered, they are looking for destinations to go, and that’s where St. Maarten comes in. The port St. Maarten, the Tourist Office and the Ministry of TEATT were present. Other businesses in St. Maarten made use of the opportunity also to go up to lobby,” the Minister continued.
“It’s basically one networking operation where players and shakers meet each other, buyers and sellers meet each other, and I’m proud of the importance that St. Maarten showed and portrayed and the interest towards St. Maarten at the St. Maarten booth,” Minister Boasman observed.
Discussions at the conference included organizing training programs in the areas of tour operators, tour guides, taxis and key players in the tourism industry.
“The guest experience in the destination is what would make people come back and make the cruise operators continue to service your country. So we were speaking to them about the possibilities of training, and the training would center around the importance of tourism industry for St. Maarten’s customer service, and the historical and cultural aspect of said market,” Minister Boasman explained.
Collaboration with the University of St. Martin (USM) was discussed, and discussions with USM were already held on how they can partake in training of the historical and cultural aspect of St. Maarten. “We would continue to finalize this project. We meet and plan for next week with Mr. Francio Guadeloupe” of USM.
“The opportunity was there to talk to them, and not only about this training, but on taxi operations in general, and I’m optimistic that a lot could be done together so that we can improve our product,” Minister Boasman concluded.