By the Caribbean Journal staff
Port St Maarten is planning a series of improvement projects, officials announced this week.
The new investments are part of a “primary focus of getting additional business in 2020 and beyond,” according to a statement.
Over the next 24 months, the port will be financing construction of several new projects, including a replica historical ship in the main cruise area; a small replica of the island’s famous salt pond; a new heritage wall and more green spaces.
“This is to further enhance the guest passenger experience at the port since the cruise terminal is the last place they encounter before boarding their vessel,” the port said in a statement.
Port St Maarten is also planning to build a new permanent homeporting terminal for so-called “fly-and-cruise” passengers who fly to St Maarten to cruise around the region.
“Homeporting is very important for the local economy as it generates more airlifts in and out of the destination; brings additional business for local service providers; and creates the potential for pre- and post- cruise extension visits,” the port said.
The changes are along with a series of infrastructure projects rannging from repairs to the inter-island berth to the RoRo pier.
“Despite facing competitors, emerging new markets in addition to changes in travel trends of cruisers, destination St. Maarten still has the highest guest satisfaction rates which in the end is still the single most important business driver for the island,’ officials said.
Over the long term, Port St Maarten officials said the port would issue a request for proposal to attract a strategic partner, as many ports around the region have done.
“Such a partnership would bring additional strategic expertise and capital leading to mutual benefits for the port and the country overall,” officials said. “Port St. Maarten is looking at quality rather than quantity based on on-going shifts in cruise trends and developments. The port will continue to be proactive in making sure that there isn’t anything that would diminish the guest experience. Sustainable tourism and how ships and ports should adapt for a greener future, preparing for the cruise terminal of the future is the buzz in the industry and fits into the investment plans of the port.”