PHILIPSBURG–The St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) says government is “in denial” when it comes to the importance of the country’s tourism industry.
“This denial becomes clear when one sees the constant lack of commitment towards tourism and constant under investment by government in this industry. For instance, we do not have sufficient capacity in place in our educational system and whenever possible the little funds budgeted for tourism marketing are diverted to other areas or pet projects by whomever is in power that day,” SHTA said in response to several questions from The Daily Herald last week, on the occasion of World Tourism Day observed on Monday.
SHTA said the absence of a functioning St. Maarten Tourism Authority (STA) and Tourism Statistical Information System (TSIS); the absence of a department head at the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and the absence of marketing media, vision and plans for the country, are challenges to the country’s tourism sector.
An STA and TSIS, the association said, are important for obtaining a consistent and cohesive approach to marketing the island. The absence of marketing media, vision and plans for the country has resulted in the country’s “disappearance” from the international scene. According to the association, there has been an absence of proper representation over the last two years in key markets such as the Netherlands.