p>PORT ST. MAARTEN:— Port St. Maarten Interim Directors T. van Kooten and R. van der Mark hosted Dutch State Secretary for Interior and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops and his delegation of 11 at the Dr. A.C Wathey Cruise and Cargo Facilities this week during his visit to the country.
State Secretary Knops was given a presentation with regard to the current state of affairs at Port St. Maarten from its various business pillars which includes Cruise. Cargo, Yachting and Real Estate.
The State Secretary was informed about the importance of getting the cargo facilities back into operation after the passing of Hurricane Irma, and the important role that it played days and weeks after the hurricane in emergency relief and humanitarian efforts.
Port St. Maarten Management also briefed State Secretary Knops about the extensive damages caused by Irma and how assistance may be needed from the Kingdom to sustain some of the costs.
“We informed the State Secretary that as a Port we have taken care of most of the critical items to become operational in lieu of the arrival of the first commercial cruise ship calls for the season, however there are strategic items that we may have to discuss in the coming months to remain a true competitor in the region as we move ahead,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Friday.
Port Management also gave State Secretary Knops and his delegation a tour of the cruise and cargo facilities where he could view first-hand some of the damages caused by Irma including those to Cruise Pier South.
During the tour, Dutch State Secretary Knops was also updated on the loss of cruise business for the period September to the end of November totaling nearly 450.000 passengers along with the ongoing efforts to recoup these numbers in the upcoming season that kicks off in December post-Irma with the cruise ship Viking Sea on December 4.
“The discussions with the Dutch State Secretary were very fruitful, and we hope to have continued discussions in the coming months relating to building back better,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Friday.
The Dutch State Secretary is on a week-long visit to Sint Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba which includes meeting with the three Governments, representatives of the private sector, Non-Governmental Organizations to discuss reconstruction required by the islands in the aftermath of hurricane Irma.
Port St. Maarten Press Release