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Seven ships in port on Saturday. Crew arrivals and Homeporting Leading to Beehive of Activity.

portsxm17022019POINTE BLANCHE:---  There were seven cruise vessels in port on Saturday, marking another busy day for the destination where cruise tourism is concerned. Three of the vessels in port, namely, Star Flyer, Wind Surf, and Seabourn Odyssey were picking up passengers which is part of the homeporting services that the island offers.
The vessels in port on Saturday were Silver Spirit, Carnival Fascination, Seabourn Odyssey, Koningsdam, Freedom of the Seas, Star Flyer and Wind Surf which represented a combined total in over 16,000 passengers and crew. In terms of passengers, there were close to 12,000 in port on Saturday and over 4,300 crew.
The seven vessels were all moored at the two cruise piers at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facility.
There has also been a noticeable increase in demand for cruise ship crew changes. A group of 50+ crew members from one cruise line flew into the destination last week to join their vessel. Port Management says this once more signifies the importance of the destination to the industry.
Port St. Maarten Management is very pleased with how Fly & Cruise Homeporting has taken off for the high 2018-2019 cruise season. A number of small cruise lines are using Port St. Maarten as their home port of choice in the northeastern Caribbean.
St. Maarten has cemented itself as a homeport destination. It is testament to the appeal of cruising from St. Maarten as cruises out of the destination offer the perfect way to experience the warm hospitality of the Region.
Emphasis has been placed on luxury cruise brands that translate into more spending power of passengers based on their higher disposable income levels. This also shifts the destination from quantity to quality cruise tourism, therefore, increasing the destination value due to attracting other high-end brand lines.
Homeporting 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.
Statistics show that 20% of the passengers who fly to a destination to take a cruise also take a pre or post vacation stay. They spend about two days after they arrive on the island before taking their cruise and do the same upon returning from their cruise.
The guests have some time prior to boarding the homeported vessel and also upon their return from their cruise to enjoy the benefits of the destination. The financial economic gain will trickle down to the following areas: transportation services sector such as taxi’s and car rentals, vessel provisioning from food and beverage wholesalers; passengers arriving and departing through SXM Airport fees and economic activity for businesses there; aircraft fees for SXM Airport; dockage and passenger fees for Port St. Maarten; fueling services; hotels and villa rentals; restaurants and entertainment; duty-free shopping retailers; cruise ship personnel shopping for goods and services while homeported; visiting attractions and amenities available and taking tours/excursions; advertising and marketing of the cruise destination; opportunity created for conversion from cruise passenger becoming a stay-over guest, and other businesses that provide ancillary services to the tourism sector.
With SXM Airport working to bring United States Customs Pre-clearance to the destination, this will be a plus and would stimulate connectivity and attract new businesses as there would be a seamless travel-cruise experience to and from the destination for the traveler.
Port St. Maarten’s strategic long-term sustainable approach calls for an investment in a permanent homeport terminal that can handle vessels carrying 1500+ cruise passengers according to cruise market demand, however, this can only materialize through the cooperation with key local stakeholders.
The current terminal building being used is a temporary structure that is air-conditioned and can handle up to 1,000 guests during peak hours; 12-check-in desks and a luggage screening machine; bar and restaurant serving drinks and snacks on sale for passengers; VIP section with seating for 50-80 passengers; Wi-Fi; facilities for the disabled; and much more.
The terminal is able to store more than 1200 pieces of luggage and is located nearby the cargo container storage area.
The permanent facility would be better equipped and structurally secure to withstand hurricanes and meet the growing demands of Fly & Cruise homeporting. The construction of a permanent facility would be carried out in close consultation with cruise line partners to ensure the design and logistical requirements are in line with new-cruise ship builds with an outlook of 15-20 years from now.
St. Maarten is also seeking to become the lead cruise ship provisioning port.

Port St. Maarten has provisioned several cruise ships with dry and frozen goods sourced from local food wholesalers, and the operations were carried out in an efficient manner showcasing the port’s ability to adapt based on varied arrival times and still deliver quality service and maintain operational excellence.
Cruise ships carrying 3000-5000+ guests and crew consume large amounts of food every day over a seven-day cruise.
Port St. Maarten has developed a strategy to increase volume related to cruise ship provisioning with the objective of becoming the lead cruise ship provisioning sea-port in the near future which would be very beneficial to the local economy protecting employment and also creating additional employment opportunities within the food wholesale sector.
Packaging from goods and products locally purchased and delivered to the vessels are disposed of by a third-party port concessionaire who directly works with the cruise lines.
St. Maarten’s international appeal as a cruise destination, along with business services offered in the maritime logistical sector and in the food supply area, are the assets allowing the island to gain from cruise ship provisioning. This would further enhance the port’s operational excellence platform bolstering more business which is key to future growth for the island.

Late night traffic control.

PHILIPSBURG:--- As the police department continues to enforce the laws of the traffic ordinance on Sunday, February 17th between 12.15 a.m. and 04.30 a.m. a traffic control was held on the Bush road in the vicinity of PBS-bank. During this control, a total of 60 vehicles were checked. Of the vehicles checked 45 drivers have told the remove the tint from those windows which are prohibited by law. 7 fines were issued, 4 vehicles were towed one of which is suspected to be stolen. Also, a small amount of marihuana and a machete were confiscated.

KPSM Press Release.

MP Emmanuel wants State Secretary Knops to stop meddling in the day to day running of Sint Maarten.

chrisemmanuel27102019This whole affair reeks of outright blackmail.

PHILIPSBURG:---“It is crystal clear, that it is not the appointed council of Ministers of Sint Maarten that are the ones running Sint Maarten. It is not as if I had any doubts before, because this is what I have been saying all along. But what we see now is that the State Secretary of Home Affairs Knops, is confirming this to the people of Sint Maarten with his latest press release,” says Member of Parliament Christopher Emmanuel.

Member of Parliament Emmanuel wants to know the following:
Do the people of Sint Maarten deserve such a weak Government as the Leona Romeo-Marlin Cabinet, which has proven that the only thing that this cabinet is 100% good at, is betraying the people and selling out Sint Maarten?
Did Leona Romeo-Marlin give Mr. Knops such an entitlement, allowing him to be able to be so deeply involved in the day to day running of this Caribbean part of the Kingdom, as opposed to making it clear to him, that despite working together, he has to stay in his lane and respect the Government and Parliament of Sint Maarten.
Does the State Secretary know, that in June of 2000, the people of Sint Maarten voted to have an autonomous status within the Dutch Kingdom, which now consists of Holland, Curaçao, and Aruba, and regardless to the fact that we are many times smaller in size, our positions in the Kingdom are equal?
Is the Leona Romeo-Marlin Cabinet telling the people of Sint Maarten to expect that this type of intervention is the way forward, due to the fact that Sint Maarten has an incapable Council of Ministers sitting in the Government Administration Building, on appointed positions that are out of their league? Have they, as a result, decided that, in order for them to appear successful, they would allow Holland to run the show and take what they want, while they pretend to be working, whereas all the while they’re only hiding in the background?
How much power does the Parliament and this Government of Sint Maarten have in regards to matters on Sint Maarten, and is the Leona Romeo-Marlin Cabinet planning to allow Knops to continue in this manner? As much as this may be beneficial for them, the Ministers, it is not beneficial for the people of Sint Maarten.
Where and when will the line be drawn as far as this State Secretary is concerned?
Member of Parliament Emmanuel is reacting to an article from Knops published in the press, ordering the Parliament of Sint Maarten to “take an urgent stand on the Dutch Government’s offer to assist the Princess Juliana International Airport with $100 million”.
MP Emmanuel went on to say that the Dutch State Secretary, who seems to be testing the waters more and more each time, in order to see how much he can get away with, went on to state that “The motions of no-confidence against St. Maarten Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and Minister Stuart Johnson are holding hostage much-needed progress in this area. We are in a sort of status quo, and we cannot move forward with our offer that is on the table as long as there is no clarity as to the support in the Sint Maarten Parliament for the government in power.”
MP Emmanuel wants the people of Sint Maarten to know, that Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin, and by extension the Government of Sint Maarten, told the people of Sint Maarten on January 9th, 2019, that the Council of Ministers had accepted the same support that Knops is referring to.
State Secretary Knops himself, as was reported on January 10th, 2019, was quoted as saying that “The government of St. Maarten has made an important decision on financing the reconstruction of the Princess Juliana International Airport.”
MP Emmanuel is, therefore, asking the Prime Minister to tell the people of Sint Maarten the truth about what exactly took place, and if what she and Knops reported was false, since the State Secretary is now stating that the progress to a deal that was supposedly signed, sealed and delivered, is so-called being held back because of “xyz”.
MP Emmanuel wants to know if, added to the conditions that the Dutch openly attached to the loan to the Airport, there were other conditions that the Prime Minister agreed to with Mr. Knops that were not published then, but are now coming to light. Like for instance, the money will only be granted if this present government remains in office. Are the conditions linked to the Leona Romeo-Marlin Cabinet? The people need to know.
“These disrespectful actions of the State Secretary are attributed to the fact that Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and her colleague ministers, due to their obvious inabilities, instantly bow without debate to every demand that has come out of The Hague so far, and therefore the perception has now been created that everyone on Sint Maarten is blinded to the blackmail type tactics that are being played out,” said the MP.
The MP says he is gravely disappointed in the local Government of Sint Maarten and said that he considers the remarks of State Secretary Knops nothing more than scare tactics and bully posturing, as he seems to want to do everything that is within his power to hold on to this government, as this government has proven to be willing to do anything, including selling out Sint Maarten, in order to stay in power.
“Truth be told, Sint Maarten is facing many issues since the passing of the storms, which were natural disasters. But in the same breath, I must say that the Leona Romeo-Marlin Cabinet has been a man-made disaster for Sint Maarten as well, and has left the people of this country stranded and in a very undesirable position up to this date. All this while being aided and abetted by those who play the game of “loving” and “assisting” our people, all the while using the opportunity to plot and plan for their great positions on our “Rock” of Sun, Sea and Sand as promised by the Sint Maarten Government.
The MP mentioned that we are four months away from the second hurricane season since the storms of 2017, and to this date the people of Sint Maarten are yet to see the “hiding places” (hurricane shelters), that this same Mr. Knops misled the press in The Netherlands about before the 2018 hurricane season, when he falsely stated that there were enough Shelters on Sint Maarten in the event of a storm.
“It’s an insult to the intelligence of the people of Sint Maarten for the State Secretary to remotely suggest that the two motions tabled by the opposition is holding up the airport’s progress. Are these recently tabled motions also keeping back the construction of roofs for the hundreds of people that are seeking assistance for almost 2 years now? Are these motions also holding up a clear and decisive plan for the landfill and the delivering of the long overdue budget? I definitely know that this is not the case,” said the MP.
MP Emmanuel said that he wants to know what the State Secretary based his statement on. When did he receive the power to tell Parliament to hurry up and take a stand, while Parliament never had a discussion with him?
The MP also sent a clear message, telling the State Secretary that not because Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and her colleague Ministers tremble to his words and bow to his requests, everyone on Sint Maarten feels the same way. There is no justifiable reason for this, so don’t expect it from our dignified people.
It is high time that the blackmail type tactics in the name of “Aid” stop, and it is also high time that the Government of Sint Maarten start seeking other solutions to the problems plaguing this beautiful “Rock” that we call home, in order to gain some form of respect from the people.

Member of Parliament Christopher Emmanuel concluded by suggesting that without delay, both the Airport and the Harbor have meetings with APS and SZV in order to come up with an investment loan agreement, similar to what was done with SZV and the Harbor over Zebec.

Emmanuel believes the $100 million is another bait and catch with far reaching consequences, as it is known that the Airport needs more than the $100 million.
“What this will do, is simply put the airport in a long-term state of begging, which of course will be very convenient for certain parties,” said the MP.

Proverbs 22-7 says: “Just as the Rich rule over the Poor, the Borrower is a Slave to the Lender.”

SMMC welcomes rotational Pediatric Cardiologist.

pediatricians16022019CAYHILL:--- St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) is pleased to announce a new rotational Pediatric Cardiologist, Dr. Amadu Juliana, who has started providing his services recently. Dr. Juliana is providing general Pediatric Cardiology services during regular visits to the hospital which started in January.
Dr. Juliana began his Pediatric training at the University Hospital of Groningen in The Netherlands. He began his practice as a Pediatrician with Pediatric Cardiology expertise in non-invasive diagnostics: Electrocardiogram (ECG) and Echocardiography. After working for 8 years as a Pediatrician in Suriname, Dr. Juliana furthered his fellowship in Pediatric Cardiology at the Leiden University Hospital and registered as a Pediatric Cardiologist in The Netherlands. He currently works at the Academic Pediatric Center in Suriname.
As a Pediatric Cardiologist, Dr. Juliana diagnoses and treats congenital and acquired heart conditions in infants, children and adolescents. Dr. Juliana’s Pediatric Cardiology experience brings new areas of expertise to SMMC, including: Echocardiograms, Prenatal Echocardiography, evaluation for Arrhythmias and invasive procedures through heart characterizations. His clinical interests include Congenital heart defects, Rheumatic heart disease and Prenatal Echocardiography.
Dr. Felix Holiday, SMMC’s Medical Director, stated: “We are excited to welcome Dr. Juliana to SMMC with his expertise and focus on quality outcomes. We are eager to implement his vision for improving access to high-quality Cardiac care for the children of St. Maarten”.
With the provision of this service, the hospital will give children the best possible chance for a healthy future through the early diagnosis and repair of pediatric heart defects.
Patients who wish to see the new Pediatric Cardiologist can make an appointment at the Outpatient Department at Tel: 543-1111 ext. 1300 or 1310. Appointments can be made from Mondays-Fridays between 8:00 am – 4:30 pm.

EXCLUSIVE:--- Minister of Finance Appointed fellow Surinamese as Director of Central Bank St. Maarten.

lofowong16022019PHILIPSBURG:--- Minister of Finance Perry Geerlings appointed a fellow Surinamese Racquel Lo Fo Wong as the Director of the Central Bank of St. Maarten.
Lo Fo Wong worked at the RBC Bank a Senior Officer in the Corporate Business Banking. She worked her last day on Friday and is expected to take up the new position as early as next week. Lo Fo Wong also worked at Orco Bank and former ABN Amro Bank.
The appointment shocks several persons within the political arena as well as the community. One MP said that a local St. Maartener Dwayne President was by-passed. President has been working in a senior position for quite some time and he even replaced the Branch Manager at times.
Some Members of Parliament intend to call Finance Minister Perry Geerlings to Parliament on the appointment especially since they believe Lo Fo Wong does not qualify for the job since she could not perform well as an Account Executive at Orco Bank where she supposedly had low productivity. The MPs that are outraged with the appointment says that Government and Parliament were not consulted on the appointment of Lo Fo Wong. They further stated that if the Surinamese national could not produce as an Account Manager then they want to know how she will produce as a regulator. Besides that, the MPs referred to an interview that Geerlings did in Suriname calling on Surinamese to come to St. Maarten for work. They said the Minister filled his cabinet with Surinamese and that local does not stand a chance with him.
Lo Fo Wong could not be reached for comment. When SMN News contacted her for a comment she said she is ill and should only be contacted on working days.

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