Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Minister Hon. Roger Lawrence says St. Maarten has reason to be optimistic, as airport passenger arrival numbers for the first quarter of 2022 outperform numbers in 2021 by 209 per cent.
He says the numbers are almost equal to those recorded in 2019 before the pandemic resulted in the global collapse of economies.
"Based on present numbers, we are cautiously optimistic about this year's visitor arrivals, especially considering that we have been able to add Carnival to our list of activities for 2022. It is also evident that hosting this year's prior festivals contributed to our arrival numbers," said Minister Lawrence.
In the first quarter of 2021, airport passenger arrival numbers were a mere 62,865, while in that same period for the previous year (2019), the arrival numbers were 195,064.
"The airport passenger arrival numbers for the first quarter are much closer to the numbers of visitors we saw pre-COVID-19," said Lawrence. According to the Economic Indicators report from the Ministry of TEATT "PJIA reached 194,516 passenger arrival for the first quarter and is on pace to achieve 90 per cent of its 2019 pre-COVID total arrivals of 716,569."
Statistics also show that the Cruise tourism numbers are on an upward trajectory, with this year's first-quarter numbers standing strong at 291,497. The upcoming Seatrade Cruise Global conference in Miami April 25th will be St. Maarten’s opportunity to meet cruise lines anew and discuss the destination’s performance for this first season since the restart of the industry in June 2021.
According to Minister Lawrence, the yachting industry also has positive news. The arrival numbers for Mega Yachts have continued to increase steadily since the island re-opened post-hurricane Irma in 2017.
The Minister said thanks to the combined efforts of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Tourism to control the spread of COVID-19 and ultimately bring our island's number of cases to a manageable level; we were able to relax some of the COVID restrictions and thus fully reopen as of March 16th, 2022.
The launch of the “We are Open” promotional campaign along with the new COVID regulations have given visitors more confidence to travel to St. Maarten because they feel confident that we can adequately manage their safety should they choose us as their destination for vacation and leisure.
"The tourism industry is not without competition, regionally and internationally. With more countries following St. Maarten's lead and relaxing regulations for COVID-19, travellers will have even more options for vacation. We have to continue to take all necessary precautions so that the economic activities we presently enjoy can continue to increase for the benefit of the island," said Lawrence.
Lawrence also commended the island's tourism industry workers and called them "dedicated ambassadors for St. Maarten." He said their continued dedication and the support from other Public and Private Sector partners in the Tourism Industry is responsible for "much of this year's success. “We should all be proud as the new numbers could not have been achieved without the collective continued dedication to destination St. Maarten over the past few years, " said Lawrence.
“It is also clear that the support from our Local and International Partners in both the Maritime and Air travel Industry has not waivered. These partners continue to remain committed to St. Maarten as they believe in our tourism product as we do,” said Lawrence.