SIMPSON BAY–St. Maarten’s marine industry can look back on “a moderately successful” high season in light of the hurricane setbacks, according to industry veteran Robbie Ferron.
As the slower season sets in, Ferron told The Daily Herald the superyacht part of the industry has bounced back well, and as a matter of course has no expectations for the off season.
The smaller yachts came back, but their potential presence remains reduced as mooring fees that are not competitive with other destinations continue to force the numbers down, Ferron said, raising a concern of the industry for several years now.
The major factor that drives consistent business on the island is the availability of a range of goods and services in St. Maarten, but the longer the industry has to fight advantaged competition, the less strong this part of the industry is likely to be whilst competitive industries in competitive territories have an incentive to invest as the impact of disadvantageous circumstances continue, said Ferron.
The marina capacity came back to some degree, but of those marinas that were closed or partially closed being a part of Simpson Bay Yacht Club (Cole Bay) and the totally closed Captain Oliver’s (Oyster Pond ), there have been no announcements . The Oyster Pond capacity reduction is the largest negative impact, said Ferron.
There is some increase in capacity, as a six-berth superyacht facility is scheduled to come on line next season.
Media reports of the removal of wrecks and reports of meetings have not provided industry professionals with a real understanding of how this is to be tackled, said Ferron. “The logic of those with ultimate authority over wrecks is not grasped by most and the communication has been extremely sparse.”
The industry has been maintaining “a strong social media push which may well have helped the degree of bounce-back of this industry.”
Next year is the 40th edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and the opportunity is right to use this milestone as a vehicle for promotion, Ferron pointed out.
For this off season, it appears that an even greater percentage of vessels have been repositioned outside the hurricane belt, leaving a low level of activity in the sector in St. Maarten, noted Ferron. There is a good opportunity for the industry and government to work at attracting them back after the hurricane season.