500,000 airline passengers, 1m cruise visitors expected | THE DAILY HERALD

St. Maarten Tourism Bureau Director May-Ling Chun.


PHILIPSBURG–As the world inches towards normalcy, St. Maarten is expecting a relatively robust year with some 500,000-airline passenger movement projected at Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) and one million cruise visitors expected at Port St. Maarten.

  St. Maarten Tourism Bureau Director May-Ling Chun provided the figures during a Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) two-day virtual destination media briefing, in which 17 Caribbean destinations updated regional media operatives on how their destination is doing. French St. Martin also provided an update during the forum.

  Chun said St. Maarten is projecting a growth of 20 to 30 per cent this year, which represents about 500,000 passenger movements on more than 3,400 flights which are expected at PJIA. “So far, every projection, and we are always in constant contact with our airport, that they have made has been pretty much on the ball,” Chun told the forum. “So, we are very excited to see this outcome and we are looking forward to this.”

  Additionally, she said, St. Maarten is estimating approximately one million cruise passengers this year and indicated that the country anticipates returning to pre-coronavirus COVID-19 levels in the year 2023.

  According to the Tourism Director, the country has experienced some challenging times with the 2017 hurricanes and the COVID-19 pandemic. She said 2016 had been a “stellar” year for the country with more than 528,000 stayover arrivals. “The pre-COVID benchmark when we were starting to recover and having an upward trend was in 2019 with over 319,000 arrivals,” she said. “We were able to do more than double to about 55 per cent of our stayover arrivals of 2018 and…in 2020 we were on our way to our 2016/2017 numbers when of course in March you see it go all the way down to zero, as with everyone else, we had a lockdown.”

  In 2021, St. Maarten had over 248,000 tourists visiting the country and over 232,519 cruise arrivals, which represents a decrease of 47 per cent in comparison to previous years. In 2019, the destination welcomed over 1.6 million cruise passengers which Chun said, “was a great help to our economy.” North America continues to be St. Maarten’s biggest market. She said the Friendly Island is fortunate to have many connections coming from the United States (US) with all the major airlines flying into St. Maarten. These include American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, Jet Blue, United and Spirit. “It has been quite busy at the airport,” she said, noting that the rebuilding of PJIA has started and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023.

  As it relates to homeporting, she said this helped the country a lot with vessels such as the Star Flyer, Wind Surf, Star Legend, MSC Seaview and Seabourn Odyssey homeporting in 2021 and are still doing so currently. Homeporting, she added, represents close to 11,000 passengers (10,772), amongst which 28 per cent stay in hotels either pre-or post-cruise.

  Chun also provided an update on what is new in St. Maarten during which she highlighted a number of activities and personalities including the Mighty Dow, Denicio Wyatte, the Heineken Regatta, SXM Festival, the Moko Jumbie Festival, and St. Maarten Carnival. She also alluded to Divi Little Bay Beach Resort’s opening of Ocean’s and Hilton Grand Vacations’ acquisition of Diamond Resorts.

  Oceans is an exclusive 98-room Caribbean oasis located within Divi Little Bay Beach Resort and is nestled right next to the resort’s expansive pureocean pool and bar. The Oceans brand is said to deliver an upper-tier level of service and ambiance with superior room amenities like plush robes and comfy slippers, VIP check-in, personal concierge services, room only or all-inclusive options, and special touches to make every Oceans guests feel pampered from the moment they arrive, Divi says on its website.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/500-000-airline-passengers-1m-cruise-visitors-expected