Tourism businesses lose money on Emancipation Day

POSTED: 07/6/12 12:03 PM

GREAT BAY- The St. Maarten Marine Trades Association (SMMTA) has expressed disappointment that the Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority Cooperation’s in Simpson Bay were closed on July 2 – the day the Dutch side celebrated Emancipation Day. The association states that the closure led to a loss of business for marinas, agents, provisioning companies, taxis, service providers and entertainment venues because vessels were not able to officially clear in or out of the Simpson Bay Lagoon. According to a release vessels chose to head to Marina Ft. Louis or stay at anchor in order to keep to their schedules – which often is dictated by weather windows or owner and/or charter guests.”
“Unfortunately the weather forecast for this period was unfavorable forcing the vessels to return to the French side ports, and not the Dutch side,” a release from the SMMTA’s President Brian Deher states.
Later the release states, “The SMMTA and its membership understand the importance of Emancipation day and supports Government’s decision to make this historical day a national holiday. That being said, a government N.V. charged with operating the only Dutch-side access point to the Simpson Bay Lagoon should not unilaterally decide to close their offices regardless of what the holiday may be or its historical significance. When we want to be home celebrating Christmas with our families the airport’s employees don’t get to close the runway and go home because thankfully the airport management understands the far reaching effect that would have on the St. Maarten economy as a whole. All we are asking is that the management of Slac be mindful of how they affect the economy of the St. Maarten by their actions.”
Deher went on to state, “The marinas and other marine related businesses on the island go to great efforts to attract and keep vessels on St. Maarten in order to extend the season, including dropping rates and fees by well over 50% during the summer months. It is extremely discouraging to have to then deal with issues, such as the office closure last Monday, that are internally generated by the government entity (Slac edi.,) that is supposed to be our partner in helping to grow the marine industry, and thus the economy of St. Maarten.”
“The SMMTA hopes that through increased communication and transparency with all stakeholders, especially Slac, that they will be successful in making the necessary changes to existing policies and procedures in order to better promote the marine industry on St. Maarten while collectively looking out for pitfalls that could hamper the industry and thus negatively affect the St. Maarten economy and the livelihood of many of its residents,” Deher’s statement concludes.
The SMMTA is the first to point out that it lost business because of the new holiday. The government itself wrote in the explanatory note to the ordinance making emancipation day a holiday that businesses stand to lose up 1.5 million guilders in revenue. Three quarters of the businesses (75 percent) of the businesses that participated in a survey about the holiday expected to be able to generate the revenue from the loss the day before or day after they would be closed, while 25 percent said they will be hurt by the closure.

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