PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Justice and Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Cornelius de Weever, after a walkthrough in Philipsburg on Saturday, said cruise line executives at the recently-concluded Seatrade Cruise Global Conference had pointed out that safety and security of cruise passengers are essential for the cruise passenger experience while visiting a destination.
He was accompanied on Saturday by Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure Management VROMI Miklos Giterson, Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier, and representatives of St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Port St. Maarten and the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.
De Weever took the initiative and invited his colleagues and stakeholders for the Saturday walkthrough. The representatives spoke with various business owners, taxi drivers and small-beach-business operators.
A number of issues were identified, such as barkers, the uneven bricks along Front Street that make walking a challenge at times, dead palm trees, etc.
“The safety and security of our visiting guests is priority number one, and cannot be taken for granted. In one presentation a cruise line executive said, their ships “have rudders and propellers, which means we can go anywhere.”
“This statement stuck with me and motivated me to do much more to ensure that St. Maarten stays the number one port and destination in the Northeastern Caribbean,” De Weever said on Sunday.
Based on the points identified during the walkthrough, an action list has been drafted starting with Ministry VROMI, which will follow up with its staff and make arrangements for a general clean-up of Philipsburg and probably extend this into the districts.
De Weever said it was very important for the St. Maarten community, adding that it was their responsibility to keep their surroundings and the country clean, and this also relates to every district within the country. He added that more garbage bins are needed since the passing of Hurricane Irma and will have to be sourced, which would contribute to keeping St. Maarten clean.
He said the positions of city inspector and a city manager were also discussed as new avenues worth exploring going forward, to deal with the challenges that regularly present themselves and need to be dealt with in a structural manner once and for all.