SHTA reports two-per-cent increase in stayover visitors

PHILIPSBURG–There has been a two-per-cent increase in hotel occupancy in 2016 compared to 2015. This accounts for a 69 per cent year-round occupancy, according to St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) in a newsletter issued on Thursday. The statistics are based on figures SHTA has collected from its member properties.

The increase in bookings over 2015 with equals 3.5 per cent of overall additional occupancy. “It is safe to conclude that the TripAdvisor/Expedia campaign, initiated by SHTA, was successful. If we hadn’t run the campaign, most likely occupancy would have been down 1.5% over 2015,” said SHTA.

Although the campaign, carried together with St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, has demonstrated proven results and returns on investments, SHTA said it has already been advised that the Tourist Bureau has significantly reduced its contribution to the 2017 campaign.

Occupancy for January 2017, compared to 2016, will likely end down one per cent for January, but there are still properties that need to report their numbers to SHTA.

The total Turnover Tax ToT receipts as reported by Government supports the notion that the economy contracted in 2016, said SHTA.

Port St. Maarten has indicated that they are working on getting the cruise arrival numbers back up. SHTA hopes they succeed quickly, and are prepared to offer assistance where possible.

“We are horrified by the ongoing situation at the dump, and have pressed for a solution to the health emergency that the continuous fire and ash is causing to our community,” said SHTA.

“This crisis has moved beyond an eye sore, it is a threat to public health and livelihoods as it is only a matter of time before the effects of the constant fire is seen on Cruise and Stay over arrivals; further contracting our economy and damaging our core product,” the association added.

It is “extremely unfortunate” that there is still no Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication (TEATT). The absence of a decision-maker is hampering a lot of plans and making executing difficult, SHTA said.

The selected North American Rep – Spring O’Brien – still hasn’t been legally appointed. Initiatives such as the St. Maarten/St. Martin Annual Regional Tradeshow (SMART) need approval on a ministerial level, and general discourse on driving the economy needs to be conducted at a ministerial level, especially in a light of the above economic situation, said SHTA.

Source: The Daily Herald