SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG – By Kelly Murphy, Washington, DC, USA) – Ludmila de Weever, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications of St. Maarten, opened the 5th Annual CaribAvia Summit & Retreat last week underlining the importance of having sustained airlift and reliable aviation partners to aid in economic recovery in the post-pandemic era.
“St. Maarten welcomes you,” de Weever said, adding “A thriving aviation sector in St. Maarten is indispensable for attracting investment to our shores.” She emphasized the direct links between aviation and job growth and entrepreneurial opportunities on the island.
“That’s why we took the bold, but measured, decision to re-open international airlift as early as was safely possible last year, in particular to the United States, our main tourism market,” de Weever said.
She noted June (week 23 of 2021) recorded the largest number of weekly arrivals with 22 aircraft on Saturday, June 12th compared to the previous weeks’ at 19 arrivals. In May 2021 destination visitors (21,949 persons) were 85% of May 2019 figures (25,905 persons). A majority of these visitors were from the United States.
Frontier Airlines will begin brand new service to St. Maarten in July 2021 which will bring additional U.S. leisure travelers to the island.
To help encourage additional international travelers to St. Maarten in a safe and efficient way, a number of steps have been implemented as the world recovers from the pandemic. International travelers are currently required to submit a negative PCR test result within 72 or 120 hours of departure (depending on departure location) to the COVID-19 Electronic Health Authorization System (EHAS) through the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labor St. Maarten.
The reviewing process takes up to 12 hours to process, and the traveler is then pre-approved or rejected. In addition, each traveler pays a US$30 insurance to ensure hotel and medical expenses are covered in the case of a positive test result while in St. Maarten resulting in a 2 weeks quarantine that can be reduced to 10 days if asymptomatic and negative PCR test takes place on day 10.
As an additional level of safety, every visitor is required to administer a daily temperature check and upload the results to the EHAS portal. Prior to departing St. Maarten, travelers must have a pre-departure PCR or Antigen test with a negative result. These steps will surely help airports, airlines, and passengers adjust to normal travel protocols and return to business as usual.