“LOCAL AUTHORITIES MUST CONSIDER LOWERING BRIDGE ENTRY FEES AS A STIMULUS TO ATTRACT AND KEEP THE LUCRATIVE YACHTING INDUSTRY IN SINT MAARTEN.”
“APPROVAL OF THE STANDARDS OF TRAINING, CERTIFICATION AND WATCH KEEPING FOR SEAFARERS CODE (STCW Code) IS A GOOD STEP GOING FORWARD
“MORE LIGHTS NEEDED FOR THE SIMPSONBAY BRIDGE AND CAUSE-WAY BRIDGE”
PHILIPSBURG, December 29, 2017
“in 2016 we publicly laid out our vision regarding the important position the Marine Industry plays in our overall tourism based economy, including the yacht sector. As we stated: Quote; “We have a well-established marine industry in St. Maarten in terms of cruises (only few ports in the Caribbean are capable of receiving the world’s largest cruise ships – Genesis Class), cargo and yachting. Over the past decade our island has invested over US $100M in infrastructure, development and equipment, acquisition and commissioning.” Un-quote from our manifest.
“The devastation of Hurricane Irma unfortunately impacted a large chunk of our land based infrastructure, including most of the large hotels. This led to thousands of our work-force being sent home with little perspective for new employment on short term. Given this fact, it is imperative that we not loose sight of what the marine industry can mean for Sint Maarten which is good for at least 20% of our GDP in terms of local inclusive development.”
Gracita continues: “Cleaning up of the Simpson bay lagoon from the under water debris left after Irma, must continue unabated and un-cumbered by the unfortunate political intrigues plaguing our nation. Instead, we must put our minds together - refocus our attention to matters such as presenting creative solutions that will encourage the yachting industry to return to Sint Maarten, with the certainty that when they do so, the industry will meet a well trained locally available professionally trained work force that they can count on. In the interim leading up to the upgrade of this important sector of our economy, it is imperative that the local authorities, including the SLAC, consider the possibility of lowering the bridge fees during this season to help spur business in this sector. Mooring fees can still be charged for vessels that remain longer in our waters. Making the case for lowering bridge fees or to consider the merits of cancelling these fees for a period of three to six months, may be helpful in attracting transient vessels to stop for a few days in Sint Maarten for food provisioning, re-fueling, dining , etc.”
Arrindell said: “additionally, we are fully aware that a huge challenge remains in terms of finding personnel to maintain these vessels in Sint Maarten. Now is the time more than ever to work towards establishing a well-trained workforce. This has been one of our firm proposals over the years, and so far not enough effort has been made to create a good and steady bases in this regard. As our local work force took a hard hit overall, I am convinced that many can be retrained to find gain-full employment in the marine and yacht industry. Organizations that created training and upgrade possibilities waited much too long to receive approval ”.
“Approval of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers Code (STCW Code) is critical. This is needed to ensure a minimum level of entry for especially our young people ( over 25 % unemployed) who has an ambition to work in the yachts industry.
The purpose of this STCW Code, is to have everyone at the same entry level in order to ensure the same high standard or basic level of knowledge which will help our younger work force to be at par with persons from abroad who dominate this field
The St. Maarten Sailing School, is an organization that has been providing such courses for some years to our youth. An official line of approval from the government has been a firm step in the right direction in order to be hired, while stimulating the much needed job creation in this field”.
Gracita concludes: “ As we are near the end of a very difficult year 2017 for most of our citizens, we must still make an effort to maintain a positive outlook overall of life. In this regard, I urge the local entities in charge of the Cause-way and Simpson-bay bridge to do all possible and return more lights to both structures for a festive end of the old year, and a fresh new start for the new year 2018. “