PHILIPSBURG–Government is still working on incentives for hotels and other businesses. One programme in the offing is support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) via the St. Maarten Recovery and Resilience Trust Fund.
Finance Minister Perry Geerlings told Members of Parliament in a sitting of the Committee for Finance on Tuesday afternoon that details of the SMEs programme, as with the other incentives, will come at a later date.
The parliament committee meeting, chaired by MP Theo Heyliger (United Democrats), was called in April to discuss a request from The Maho Group and Sunwing Travel Group for soft loan support and other incentives. Several other resorts, including Divi Little Bay Beach Resort and Alegria, have also requested government assistance. No incentives have been agreed on as yet. Several ministries are looking over the post-hurricane recovery package.
Government does anticipate a loss of income due to the incentives when given to resorts and other businesses. Geerlings said government had to look at what the incentives will bring to the country’s economy in the future. “You have to invest to get a gain,” he said.
Geerlings anticipates that the country’s economy will rebound to pre-Hurricane Irma levels by 2020. The loss of various types of tax income will continue for the coming years.
MPs were also given an update on the reopening dates of several resorts, including Sonesta Ocean Point that is set to open on December 15 and Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino on February 1, 2019.
Princess Port de Plaisance is expected to open by year’s end, as are Royal Islander, The Towers at Mullet Bay and Carl’s Unique Inn.
Sapphire Beach Club is on the calendar for the first quarter of 2019 and Alegria Resort in June 2019.
There is no reopening date for The Westin St. Maarten Dawn Beach Resort and Spa, although the timeshare section Dawn Beach Club is already welcoming guests.
Sunwing expects to complete construction of its Planet Hollywood resort in 2020.
Diamond Resorts’ Flamingo Beach Resort is set to reopen in the first quarter of 2020.
St. Maarten Tourist Bureau is monitoring and assessing the return of the country’s room inventory, according to Geerlings.
National Alliance MP Ardwell Irion queried why Geerlings took months to return to Parliament with answers on the meeting topic. He said the lengthy time between when the meeting originally started in August and the reconvening in December made holding the meeting pointless. Geerlings’ response was that he always comes to Parliament when called and tries to deliver answers.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/83298-govt-still-working-out-incentives-for-hotels