St Maarten Is a Resurgent Caribbean Hotspot

st maarten caribbeanThe El Zafiro resort in St Maarten.

By Alexander Britell

St Maarten tourism is booming.

The Dutch Caribbean hotspot is seeing a massive rebound in tourism arrivals, according to newly-released data for the first half of 2019.

St Maarten reported 171,543 stayover visitors in the first six months of 2019, compared to the same period in 2018.

That represented a whopping 131 percent increase year over year, a strong statement of rebirth for the destination in the wake of the storms of the fall of 2017.

st maarten simpson bay

Sunning on Simpson Bay Beach

Those numbers included strong hotel occupancy in the first half, with an average of 81.9 percent in the first quarter, and 71.4 percent in the second quarter, according to data from the St Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association.

“These numbers highlight how much we have improved since Hurricane Irma and show the resilience of our people,” said St. Maarten Tourism Minister Stuart Johnson. “As St. Maarten continues to redevelop sustainably, we are excited that the visitor numbers remain on the increase. We welcome our new and returning visitors as we continue to promote the diversity of our tourism product and the hospitality of our people.”

The visitor numbers included 92,285 from the all-important U.S. market, along with another 15,683 from Canada.

St Maarten’s tourism renaissance has included a wave of relaunched services, with airlines like Delta, American Airlines, JetBlue, United and Spirit all having returned with regular service.

st maarten caribbean hostpot karakter

The relaunched, renowned Karakter beach bar in Simpson Bay.

Air Canada, Air Transat and Sunwing have also resumed service to the destination.

Right now, St Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport is working in a temporary facility, but the airport expects to be fully operational by the first quarter of 2020, according to a statement.

For now, more than 65 percent of all the hotels and timeshares in St Maarten have reopened, with villas and homesharing options seeing an expanded presence.

The hotel stats include a pair of particularly important re-openings: the Sonesta Ocean Point and Sonesta Maho Beach resorts.

And nearly all of St Maarten’s on-island attractions have reopened, from ATV tours to kayaking and scuba diving and beach bars.

“We are delighted to see these numbers,” said St Maarten Director of Tourism May-Ling Chun. “Everyone in the industry has been working tirelessly to ensure that our tourism sector recovers strong and to let visitors know that we’re open for business. We’re very pleased to see that our loyal visitors are now returning to the island in greater numbers.”

For more, visit St Maarten.

— CJ


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