PHILIPSBURG–The country’s cruise tourism numbers, both in revenue and passenger arrivals, continue to dwindle, but the current National Alliance (NA)-led Government appears to have no plan to save the industry, United People’s (UP) party Member of Parliament (MP) Tamara Leonard said.
In the full year of 2015, St. Maarten already had some US $19 million in loss of revenue due to a decrease of 100,329 passengers from 190 less ship calls. “These numbers are based on information available on the website of the Government’s Department of Statistics,” Leonard said. Similarly, the decreases in revenue and passenger arrivals have flowed over to 2016.
“Government and Port St. Maarten readily announced representatives traveling to travel shows and conferences, but they do not as quickly tell us what the gains are of these often times expensive trips. It appears the contacts made are purely cosmetic, because arrivals, increase in ship calls and revenues are not seen,” the MP told The Daily Herald.
Leonard questioned where Government’s plans are to boost the cruise sectors and tourism in general. “We cannot bury our heads in beach sand and pretend Cuba is not opening up. Prime Minister William Marlin a few months ago said Cuba is not a threat to St. Maarten. It is an opportunity for cooperation according to him. So where is the cooperation, or what is being done to ward off any further impact to our always waning cruise industry,” she said.
The first quarter of 2015 saw 791,537 cruise passengers. However, arrivals slid to 671,288 in the same quarter for 2016. The same was true for the second quarter with 2015 recording 360,312 arrivals and 2016 having only 125,669. “These numbers to say the least are frightening and worrisome. Cruise tourism has carried our country for the past decades and ensures our people were employed and earning a stable and steady income,” she said.
The ship and arrival numbers do not lie, said Leonard. The first half of 2015 saw passenger arrivals at 1,151,899. Arrivals for the first half of this year add up to only 796,975. “That’s 354,924 less cruise passengers coming to our shores. That’s a decline of 30.8 per cent. This translates into loss of business from everyone, from government and taxi drivers to shops and restaurants,” Leonard said.
Ship calls have also declined. The first quarter of 2015 saw 323 ship calls and the same period for 2016 saw only 277. The second quarter of last year recorded 107 ship calls, while the same quarter for this year has only 44 calls.
“This represents 39.3 per cent less ship calls to Port St. Maarten. This is not only a percentage. It is a hurtful figure, because it means those on the frontline of cruise tourism are suffering like no other time in our history. This means the community in general is seeing less income and prosperity. In all of this, we are yet to hear from Government or Port St. Maarten’s plans for a turnaround,” said Leonard.
Source: Daily Herald
Tamara: Less revenue from cruise, but no plan from Govt.