Port of St. Maarten and Lagoon Authority showcases at boat show

POSTED: 10/24/13 5:44 PM

St. Maarten – For the first time ever, the Port of St. Maarten and the Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority (SLAC) will be showcasing the maritime and yachting sector of the country at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show in Florida from October 31 to November 4.

Fort Lauderdale is considered the “Yachting Capital of the World,” and will be hosting the 54th Lauderdale International Boat Show. Show exhibits range from yacht builders and designers to exotic cars and brokerage yachts.

A wide variety of boats and sea vessels will be on display including runabouts, sport fishers, high performance boats, center consoles, cabin cruisers, flats boats, skiffs, express cruisers, sailing yachts, motor yachts, bow riders, catamarans, ski boats, jet boats, trawlers, inflatables, canoes, and extraordinary super yachts.

The St. Maarten Marine Trades Association (SMMTA) and its individual members and non-members have been invited to supply promotional materials of their marinas, services and products that will be placed at the Port/SLAC financed St. Maarten booth to promote the destination’s marine and yachting sector.

St. Maarten marine and yachting sector is responsible for 12.5 percent of the national economy according to a 2008 study that was commissioned by SMMTA and carried out by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) of the former Netherlands Antilles.

Back in 2008, there were over 80 companies providing services to the marine sector and over the year 2007, the country’s marine sector produced over $200 million (399 million guilders), and representing 16.3 percent of the overall production of the businesses on St. Maarten. In terms of wages and the number of employees, 2,794 employees, 17.2 percent of the total work force earned 106.5 million guilders.

“This is the first time that our Simpson Bay Lagoon Authority will be participating and promoting at such a prestigious boat show. We fully understand the importance of the country’s maritime and yachting sector and the role that it plays in our economic development. It has been always our intention to work with all stakeholders in making the marine and yachting sector the leading economic segment in this part of the Caribbean. There is much to be done, but if we work together in a sincere manner we can accomplish much more,” Harbor Group of Companies Chief Executive Officer Mark Mingo said.

“One of the challenges of the sector as pointed in the Economic Diversification Study Final Report, September 2006 carried out by SQW Limited from the UK on behalf of the Island Territory Government of St. Maarten at the time, and described as a key constraint is that of skilled labor before competitors seize on this opportunity. We need more local trained skilled people working in the sector and more effort has to be placed in this area. The Marine Sector has hired over time a number of people and we need to work together on getting more young people involved,” Mingo added.

Since the Harbor Group of Companies took over the Lagoon Authority in December 2009 from the Economic Development Corporation, the company now breaks-even from a financial perspective which is good for the shareholder representative, the government. The company is not a burden to the tax payer.

The Lagoon Authority has been able to partner with the Nature Foundation and develop a relationship that looks at developing a sustainable environmental management plan for the lagoon since it’s a very important eco system for the country.

The Lagoon Authority was responsible for the extension of the Simpson Bay Bridge a few years ago in order to ensure that larger mega-yachts could enter the Simpson Bay Lagoon and dock at the various marinas located in the lagoon therefore resulting in increased business for the sector; funds were secured for the construction of the Simpson Bay Lagoon Causeway to provide an alternative route in the event of a bridge malfunction, and to alleviate traffic congestion on the Simpson Bay strip; moorings have been installed for the safe transit of yachts and mega-yachts in and out of the lagoon; security cameras, sidewalks and streetlights were installed on both sides of the Simpson Bay Bridge to enhance safety and security of residents and tourists who patronage the various businesses located on the so-called Simpson Bay strip.

A delegation from the Port will be exhibiting the yacht cruising opportunities that St. Maarten has to offer, which will include Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Ted Richardson, Chief Executive Officer Mark Mingo, Supervisory Board member Humphrey Mezas, representatives from the Lagoon Authority and staff from the Commercial Department.



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