Dear Valued Members,
First of all, the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) hopes you, your colleagues and loved ones stay safe during the current pandemic. We refer to the World Health Organization for guidelines how to protect yourself (who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public) and for those companies dealing with tourists to the resources of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA)’s special website http://www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com/covid-19/.
It speaks for itself that SHTA has postponed all masterclasses, mixers and events until we consider it safe to resume organizing those. Those who had booked for the SMART tradeshow in May can obtain a refund by e-mailing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the past weeks, SHTA has been busy with anticipating the economic fallout of the pandemic and how it will compound our still ongoing recovery process in order to mitigate business risk for our members and the potential harm to the many households that they represent.
As such, we have communicated the following urgently required measures to our Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, as well as St. Maarten’s Parliament and Governor. We communicate them here to you now in the hopes that we all emphasize the same urgent concerns and that our collective pressure can ensure swift action.
1. Sint Maarten needs to urgently ratify the CFATF agreements. If this is not done swiftly, more difficult payment structures will directly hamper economic activity and thus recovery of Sint Maarten. A letter has been sent to all parliament factions and the prime minister on March 15, 2020.
2. SHTA should be included in the Economic Task Force being established. We stand ready to participate and assist in protecting our investments, our livelihoods and those of our staff (70% of the Labor Force) in these challenging and changing times.
3. Reduction of the TOT tariff to 0%.
4. Implementation of a payroll subsidy of 90% of the February declaration to the private sector for 6 months, in order to ensure job security. We estimate costs would amount to ANG 45 million per month, for a total amount of ANG 270 million or 152 million US dollars. This money is directly accessible from the established Trust Fund to be spent and shared through our local economy in our recovery efforts. This can swiftly and easily be implemented. It will entice businesses not to lay-off any personnel and it will ensure that the hit to tax revenues will be significantly mitigated.
As this crisis is disrupting world-wide travel, it will likely have a longer-term effect on how we do business and what business we do. The SHTA will keep pressing government to comply to the requests above, on a daily basis. SHTA is helped by your support advocating for the same measures any time you deem possible.
Like all great business disruptions, we have a choice: to either keep our head in the sand continuing the beaten path until it is no longer tenable or use our hiatus wisely to imagine how St. Maarten can innovate to make use of this disruption to adapt our businesses to a new tourism model that is bound to come out of it.
We welcome your input, questions, feedback and support at email@example.com.
The SHTA Board and Team