A queue of visitors at PJIA trying to leave.
PHILIPSBURG–Approximately 222 tourists primarily from the United States, Canada and Europe are currently at hotels, resorts and timeshare properties in St. Maarten and are trying to return to their respective homelands amidst the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions gripping a number of countries.
St. Maarten Tourist Bureau Director May-Ling Chun said the Bureau has been busy over the past days with hotels to assess and put a system in place to communicate with Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) and airlines so that hotels can coordinate with guests regarding returning to their respective countries.
Chun said the collaboration has been “working well so far.” Hotels, she added, are reporting that “slowly, but surely,” many of the tourist guests have left the country already.
She said that while St. Maarten is the home away from home for the country’s visitors, the fact is that it is not certain when everyone will get a chance to return to their respective countries given the travel restrictions and the uncertainty of flights.
“Flights won’t come in empty just to come in. It’s a very hard and tough decision to make for long-time and repeat visitors who come. The best thing is for them to go home right now because we don’t know what will happen in the next few weeks. We have to make sure that safety is first for the community, residents and visitors as well.”
She stressed that the systematic communication strategy in place is bearing fruit. “It’s been good. We have to do this and stay focused.”
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/approximately-222-tourists-on-dutch-side-trying-to-go-home