Commissioner of District 9, Broward County, Florida, Dale Holness (front row, second right) with participants at the 23rd trade mission at the Old Gin House in Lower Town, St. Eustatius.
ST. EUSTATIUS–The 23rd trade mission, connecting sustainable business from the kingdom of the Netherlands and the Caribbean region, was held on St. Eustatius. The event was a collaboration between three companies – St. Eustatius Business Association STEBA, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of St. Eustatius and Saba, and St. Eustatius Tourism Development Foundation (STDF).
The trade mission, which took place at the Old Gin House, was an informative session. The Expo takes place annually in the Netherlands and brings together potential business partners through presentations and matchmaking sessions. InterExpo Caribbean N.V. has been organising trade missions, congresses and events with an international character in the Caribbean, the Netherlands, Europe, Asia and North and Latin America since 1992.
Previous events focused on wind and solar energy, tourism, construction industry, on- and offshore, second homes, partnership, health, (fire) safety and environment, water management, recycling, financial services, transport, telecommunications, and sustainability in the Caribbean part of the kingdom of the Netherlands. The mission’s goal is to connect the business community from the Netherlands and the Caribbean region.
Commissioner of District 9, Broward County, Dale Holness was the keynote speaker at the event. Holness said that the Caribbean and Latin America accounts for US $70 billion of exports from Broward County, $14 billion of that is for Brazil alone.
He commented on the unemployment on Statia, which is at is 17 per cent. He said that number could be reduced by building on the island’s rich history. He commented on how former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt came to present a plaque to Statia for being the first to officially recognize the United States as a country. The plague is prominently displayed in Fort Oranje.
Holness also encouraged the island to expand the port to accommodate cruise ships as well as in trying to attract one large hotel brand. He offered the smaller hotels on the island assurances that a larger hotel brand would not take away from their customers as more recognition would attract more tourists, which would result in more tourists spilling over from the larger hotel.
He suggested Statia encourage and train residents to add rooms to their homes, as some visitors would like the full cultural experience during their visit.
“No matter what business you are in, if you’re benefiting from the economy here, I believe you ought to be promoting the destination,” he said. He said that Statia could promote historical and cultural events, such as the fact that the island has the second or third oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere. When he returns to South Florida, Holness said he would promote that aspect of the island to the large Jewish population there.
Statia’s children are taught English, Spanish and Dutch. He said this could too be promoted as a destination location to learn a particular language by visitors.
He encouraged the island to be as technologically forward as it can possibly be by using social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.
“You know your island much better than I, and you know about its potential. If you all work together to build and strengthen the island, part of that is building a plan of what you have to do and what the next steps to achieve that plan should be,” he told trade mission participants.
Other guest speakers were President of National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD), and representative for the Dutch Windward Islands of the Development Bank of the Netherlands Antilles OBNA Kenneth Lei, who addressed the financing possibilities offered through his facility.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/66767-dale-holness-urges-trade-mission-to-work-together