The St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) analyzed that hotel and timeshare property occupancy rates in St. Maarten remained consistent in 2023 when compared to the previous year, as indicated by the November and December 2023 occupancy surveys.

The overall difference between 2023 (64.8%) and 2022 (64.2%) is less than one percent and falls well within the margin of error. The November 2023 survey demonstrated a 6.2% growth in occupancy, reaching 71.4%, while December 2023 saw a 7% increase, reaching an occupancy rate of 77.3%.

St. Maarten boasts a comparatively high sample of small and large hotels participating in the occupancy survey, with 21 hotels participating in November and 18 in December. Samples at a minimum cover results of 2000 hotel rooms and a spread of small and large hotels and timeshare and non – timeshare properties.

Although monthly hotel occupancy in 2022 was higher than in 2023 for January, February, March, November, and December, the total number of hotel nights used in St. Maarten remains comparable to the previous year. It is important to note that the early months of 2022 were still impacted by the challenges posed by the pandemic.

In 2016, St. Maarten’s stayover economy produced 998,052 room nights with an average occupancy rate of 69%. With 796,599 room nights in 2023, a 20% gap still needs to be recovered to reach former economic volumes. This year serves as a baseline since it was the last year free from catastrophic events.

While the growth in November and December occupancy rates is viewed positively, the SHTA advocates for direct government investment in summer campaigns to bolster the overall tourism budget. This investment is crucial to addressing the weaker summer occupancy and enhancing St. Maarten’s competitive position in the tourism market.

Comparisons with competing destinations in the region highlight that the annual decline in St. Maarten’s tourism industry during the summer months is avoidable and can be mitigated with additional marketing funding. The SHTA emphasizes that investments in the tourism sector result in increased income, job opportunities, and direct revenue for the government, with an estimated fivefold return on every marketing dollar spent.

St. Maarten’s tourism budget is dwarfed by similar size destinations measured in room count, such as Curacao (4 to 5 times St. Maarten’s budget size) and the United States Virgin Islands (more than 10 times). Recognizing the competitive nature of the tourism industry, the association urges increased investment in this critical sector.

To efficiently manage the rise in tourism spending, the SHTA continues to advocate for the implementation of an Aruba model Tourism Authority. The association views the expressed support from various political parties during the recent election as a positive development and hopes that these commitments will be honored and integrated into any future government plans to enhance the St. Maarten tourism product promptly.

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