What a test 2017 turned out to be. At the start of the year, none of us could have imagined going through a year that has brought about such dramatic changes to so many lives. The one thing we were sure of, was our faith in the Almighty to see us through, come what may.
In 2017 I received the most privileged opportunity of my life to serve you, the people of St. Maarten, as Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication (TEATT). Though my entire life has been dedicated to service in one way or the other, the privilege to serve in the executive branch of government brought me closer to you every single day for almost a year.
I heard your stories, your great ideas, your hopes for St. Maarten. I met young, forward, creative thinkers and savvy veterans of our precious tourism industry who only wanted the best for St. Maarten. I worked daily with some of the brightest civil servants in government service, learning something new every day from these hard-working public servants. It was quite a journey.
When Irma struck, the relationships we built prior were key factors in how we successfully managed our island’s recovery thus far. From the coordination of relief supplies through Ministry TEATT to securing commercial airlift back to the island in record time, it was truly a fantastic team effort, led by dedicated and dynamic people.
As we start a new year, our challenges have not diminished. In fact, we will be moving into a period that will test our resiliency and toughness as a people. Many of the challenges ahead cannot be met by government alone. Government has the responsibility to develop the plans that will guide our recovery and stimulate our economy. But our people, the private sector, tourism partners and more, has to put in work as well. Never has the term “all hands on deck” been more significant than right now, at this moment in our history.
In 2018 we will face challenges but also many exciting opportunities. A window has been opened for us to re-invent our economy, our tourism product and the way we do business. We must embrace innovation throughout government, improving the way we do things socially, economically and technologically. In a region of rapid and profound change, we must continually adapt and improve, and part of doing that successfully means fostering a culture of innovation and celebrating those who lead the way, in particular, our young professionals.
I have seen incredible acts of kindness and generosity in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Our people sprang into action not because their government told them to, but simply because of how they felt. They felt responsible for their neighbors. They felt responsible to help and do as much as the can for their communities and island as a whole.
After seeing all of that, a thought has stuck with me ever since; If we are capable of a new way of feeling, then we must surely be capable of a new way of thinking. St. Maarten deserves so much more, so much better. We must reject and rebuke self-defeating attitudes. If we truly love our island nation, we will put that love on display through positive action that will foster a sound quality of life for our people now and for generations to come.
I am proud of what has been accomplished in 2017. I am mindful that we have only just begun, and that there still remains much more work to be achieved. We will respond to history’s call to rebuild our economy and restore our island paradise as a preferred destination in the Caribbean region. I am confident that our pride, dignity, and faith as a people will carry us through. Let us start 2018 with confidence, not complacency. Each of us can make a difference.
On behalf of my family and my cabinet, I extend heartfelt New Year wishes to you and your families. May you find peace, happiness and prosperity and May God guide all of us as we rise confidently to meet our challenges. God Bless you and God Bless St. Maarten.
Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication
Source: St. Martin News Network http://www.smn-news.com/st-maarten-st-martin-news/28028-minister-mellissa-arrindell-doncher-new-year-message-2018.html