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On Friday August 4th, 2017 board members and representatives of the St. Maarten Marine Trades Association (SMMTA) met with the Minister of Justice, Rafael Boasman, and members of his cabinet to discuss concerns pertaining to the Immigration policy and related issues. The discussions focused on seeking mutually beneficial solutions for challenges experienced by the marine sector, in trying to balance island security and sustainable economic growth during the “off-season”. Special emphasis was placed on promoting awareness and the use of the so-called “Caribbean Carpet Visa (CCV)”.

Minister of Justice, Rafael Boasman, acknowledged the on-going desires by all parties to improve economic growth, while at the same time taking into account Government’s on-going responsibility to keep the destination safe and secure. The minister stressed on the increase of ongoing organized cross border criminality and international terrorism.

The SMMTA representatives commended the Minister for his flexible approach in seeking workable and balanced solutions that specifically affect the Marine sector in general, and the Mega Yacht business to the island in particular.  

The goal of the meeting was, amongst others, to ensure that the immigration policies in effect for Country St. Maarten are well understood by all stakeholders, including the agents of the visiting mega yachts, their crew members and visitors in general. Together with government, the SMMTA will improve the accessibility of this information, so that the stakeholders are aware of the existing visa requirements for St. Maarten to avoid unnecessary inconvenience to visitors.

The Caribbean Carpet Visa provides additional benefits for repeat travelers as it is granted for a period of one year, and may thereafter be renewed for a period of three years, as compared to the current 90 days, which is considered a short coming by the SMMTA.

SMMTA will work on collaborative marketing effort to ensure that the requirements for the Caribbean Carpet Visa specifically for passengers and crew members of the mega yachts from countries subject to Dutch Kingdom Visa laws, is well publicized, and therefor well known.

Equally important is the debunking of the thought that entry into Sint Maarten with a Schengen visa is possible, as is in Europe. 

The SMMTA will aggressively promote the Caribbean Carpet Visa requirements, as well as proactively register marine industry visitors for the CCV at upcoming boat and trade shows in Europe, the USA and the Caribbean through informative seminars and events on St. Maarten.

SMMTA President, Brian Deher was quoted as saying: “We feel that there is an opportunity here to not only help our customers be compliant with our Country’s Immigration Policies, but also to handle this in a way as to promote St. Maarten in general from a tourism point of view through press releases and other marketing outlets that our members are actively using.”

The minister emphasized the importance of dialogue with entities of the private sector such as SMMTA to be abreast of ongoing developments, general concerns and challenges, to make St. Maarten a safer and more enjoyable destination. This is a step towards decreasing “red tape” to enter the country, while ensuring that the right policies are in place and are being adhered to.