The St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA), the largest private business representative on the island, applauds the fact that the University of St. Martin (USM) has returned to its roots: hospitality as the flagship of our only institution for higher tertiary education. It is a matter the board of the SHTA has been championing for quite some time, as the hospitality industry is quite literally the bread and butter of St. Maarten society.

Everyone directly or indirectly contributes to the tourist’s experience and appreciation of our island. So too everyone mindfully, or as a matter of fact, contributes to the endeavor of offering the visitors to our island the time of their lives.

And everyone directly or indirectly is affected when impolite behavior, petty and white collar crime, or inappropriate government policies, cause tourists to begin a campaign of negative publicity against our island. Making and keeping our island a hospitable place for visitors and residents alike is a collective project.

To have everyone consciously and conscientiously involved in making our island stand out on the tourist map of the world, and as a place to live peacefully while earning a living, takes education.

Education in this case ought to be understood as the proper practical, intellectual, social and ethical preparation necessary to be able to work together with fellow islanders to positively engage visitors to our island, whilst simultaneously contributing to the innovation of our tourist product in the light of international developments.

The SHTA is a strong proponent of the view that the population of the island ought to be able to man all the positions in the chain of command of the tourist enterprises on the island.

The qualification that the SHTA makes is that this desire cannot be based solely on ethnic preference. It ought to be based on individual merit and commitment to contribute to the island. Therein the role of education is pivotal, said Dr. Francio Guadeloupe, Dean of Academics/Interim President at USM and SHTA Board Member.

With its goals for the New Year and new government in mind, the SHTA will be entering into conversation with the USM and other educational institutions to explore ways in which the right synergy emerges between hospitality and education.

“Over the years SHTA and many of their member companies have hosted internship and mentoring programs for students wishing to acquire practical experience and is committed to continue in the path that has proven to be successful” said Karen Hana, Executive Director of the SHTA.

The SHTA is dedicated to bringing quality to all aspects of life on St. Maarten by promoting sustainable economic development for its members in cooperation with the social partners and the creation of a fair marketplace. For more information please contact our offices at 542-0108 or visit our website (SHTA)

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