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Senior citizen robbed, beaten and almost raped by lone intruder.

PHILIPSBURG:--- Residents of Middle Region are enraged over an incident that took place in their neighborhood Saturday night. Several of the residents who spoke to SMN News stated that a lone intruder broke into the home of an 84-year-old woman, the intruder robbed the home while he severely assaulted the elderly woman by beating her and even went as far by trying to rape her.
The residents said that when the intruder was done he fled from the home and the elderly woman managed to get out of her house and seek help from her neighbors that are operating a bar next to the home where the robbery and assault took place.
While the incident was reported to police, the police have not issued any statement on the case. SMN News contacted Police Spokesman Ricardo Henson on Monday for information on the case and Henson said he was unaware of such a case, Henson promised to provide information on Tuesday if he manages to get information from the detective department.
As the news spread about the incident several residents are expressing their concerns as to what happened to a senior citizen and they are wondering if the police department is doing enough to capture the intruder who found it fit to assault and rob an elderly citizen.

Wreath laid on the occasion of Dr. A.C. Wathey 91st birthday

watheybirthday24072017POINTE BLANCHE:--- On Monday, July 24, Port St. Maarten Management and Staff laid a wreath at the statue of the late Dr. Claude Wathey in front of the Cruise Terminal Building on the occasion of his 91st birthday.
The country’s Seaport – Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facility - is named after Wathey who has been described as the ‘father of the nation,’ overseeing the economic development of the country over a 40-year period.
The vision of Port St. Maarten is to lead in the Caribbean through quality service and operational excellence while providing a safe and secure environment for the ports customers and the people of the country.
The mission at Port St. Maarten is to provide quality integrated services to its customers through continuous development and innovation in all areas of business while maintaining the leadership role in the economic development on Sint Maarten where sustainability is the cornerstone for 21st-century port development and progress.
Port St. Maarten has grown from 108,000 cruise passengers in 1980 to over 1.5 million passengers annually. The port has received many accolades over the years recognizing its position within the Region and role it plays where employment and business generated for country is concerned, generating one-third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product from its cruise and cargo operations.

Continue to take measures to eliminate mosquito breeding sites after rainfall to lower the mosquito population.

GREAT BAY (DCOMM) – The Collective Preventive Services (CPS), a government department under the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, says daily intermittent rainfall creates mosquito breeding opportunities, and therefore, every household and business enterprise needs to continue taking proactive measures to prevent mosquitos from breeding.

Be on the alert for mosquito breeding sites and eliminate them especially after every rainfall event!

Actively destroy or dispose of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused plastic swimming pools or other containers that collect and hold water. Do not allow water to accumulate in the saucers of flowerpots, cemetery urns/vases or in pet dishes for more than two days. Throw out the water and turn them over every time it collects water.
Maintain ‘screen off cistern outlets,’ covers and screen off septic tanks properly, and screen windows and doors.
An increase in the mosquito population puts residents and visitors at risk for a mosquito borne disease.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) recently reported that the number of zika cases in the Caribbean has significantly declined from the outbreak of 2016, however, there is still need for continued vigilance and action on mosquito borne diseases, which pose a health security threat, a tourism threat, and an economic threat.

Zika, the newest and latest mosquito borne disease to the Region, came on the heels of chikungunya which affected the health and economic structure of most countries and territories.

In late 2015, the Caribbean confirmed its first case of the zika virus, followed by a dramatic increase in 2016.

The number of laboratory requests and confirmed tests peaked in August, then began a steady decline to December. The zika epidemic has shown signs of a significant slow-down, and the risk to residents and visitors is deemed much lower. However, the region continues to struggle and fight against the Aedes aegypti mosquito responsible for its transmission.

Zika has been associated with an increase in Guillian Barre syndromes (GBS) in five CARPHA member states (CMS). A zika-associated case of microcephaly has also been reported in one country. No reports of sexually transmitted zika cases in CMS have been documented. These associated complications can have a marked impact on the people affected and their communities.

Dr. C. James Hospedales, Executive Director of CARPHA said, “The Region has seen dengue, chikungunya, and now zika which is transmitted by the same mosquito, and the key to tackling them is prevention and control. We must continue to literally wage war on them. But we need to be smarter. We need new approaches and technologies and partners against this threat, which is present throughout most of the tropical world.”

CPS says the war on mosquitos requires an integrated collaborative and effective approach and therefore calls on the populace as well as visitors to wear light colored clothing at dusk; long sleeve shirts and pants; and use mosquito repellent to prevent being bitten by a mosquito that could possibly be carrying a mosquito borne disease.

For information about dengue fever, zika and chikungunya prevention measures, you can call CPS 542-2078 or 542-3003 to report mosquito breeding sites or send us an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Minister: Increased tourism budget key to St. Maarten’s tourism product development.

mellissadonker24072017PHILIPSBURG:--- With the 2018 budget discussion upcoming in a few weeks, Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher is hoping to secure an increase in the tourism budget to meet the various goals of government as laid out in the governing program and re-invigorate St. Maarten’s tourism product,
Avoiding mentioning details of a plan she said has been worked out between her cabinet and the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau led by its Head Rolando Brison, the Minister said serious budget adjustments are being made to form the basis between now and 2018 as to how government can achieve success and boost St. Maarten’s tourism product. To this end, she explained, the (STB) has identified various crucial activities to be executed within the tourism source markets.
The American market
Currently, the American market accounts for over 63% of stay-over arrivals, and similar numbers exist for the Cruise market. “It is consequently the destination for which we have the most international airlift arriving into the country, with direct flight to key hubs such as JFK, MIA, and Philadelphia. To remain competitive within this market, we have an urgent need for increasing the marketing efforts in this region,” the Minister said. The three main ways in which these marketing efforts will be focused are:

• Through marketing efforts of our marketing firm (MMGY Global)
• Through the proven marketing results of online leading online resellers such as Expedia and Trip Advisor
• Through cooperative marketing efforts with key stakeholders such as the Airport, Harbor and Hotel Associations and international stakeholders
“To only rely on the marketing firm alone to promote the destination will not likely yield positive results. We need a more comprehensive approach to marketing what is by far the most critical tourism market we have. An increase is American marketing budget will be the difference in either being able to grow in the market with new, proven, (cost) effective marketing possibilities or just not realizing growth within the market,” the Minister said.

Canadian Tourism
The Canadian market is St. Maarten’s fastest growing market in 2016, growing from 44,000 to 57,000 Canadian travelers. Much of the marketing efforts, the Minister said, have been through airline partners, and they have been instrumental in helping the destination have a larger foothold in Canada. “In terms of budget, we will look at repeating our efforts with airline partners, but also using our North American firm to do a broader marketing campaign surrounding the efforts of the airline partners. This should yield to yet another year of growth since Airline capacity is expected to be up from 2017 to 2018,” the Minister said.
European Tourism
The Minister said the European market has been making some great strides in 2017. The new marketing firm, AviaReps, had hit the ground running, “we have had a physical presence in Benelux at events for the first time in several years, and we are poised to have several new airlines operating out of Europe for us. Most of the budget goes towards our marketing firm, though some funding is also reserved for additional route development for the region.”
Latin American Tourism Budget
It is the opinion of the STB that the Latin American budget situation has been a case of putting the cart before the horse. The Minister said that millions have been invested into this market, but little or nothing was done in terms of route development and creating an actual business plan for how that market should be developed sustainably for St. Maarten.
“We have no direct connection to any of the larger airports in Latin America, with our sole connection to Latin America being Copa through Panama, which is only the 11th busiest airport in Latin America. With this in mind, the budget will reflect contracting a cost-effective firm to develop a business plan for that region, while maintaining Copa Airlines and targeting new airlift.
Caribbean Tourism
Arrindell-Doncher stressed that the effect of Caribbean tourism on the economy is often underestimated. Numbers show that close to 30% of traffic through the airport is from within the Caribbean.
“While we do subsidize Carnival and other events, we do need to do our part from the tourist office itself for promoting the destination surrounding these events. Also, while our brand has been used for global purposes, the brand we currently have does not necessarily speak to our Caribbean travelers. St. Maarten’s geographic location, more relaxed VISA requirements compared to the US, and competitive shopping sector makes it the best place for Caribbean residents to vacation. A new brand campaign will be geared towards increasing this,” the Minister explained.
The Minister also said that information gathered at the stakeholder session in June, as well as tourism stakeholder's comments about the product, was used in finalizing the plan forward. This session, an initiative of the STB, gave stakeholders direct access to St. Maarten’s marketing firms and provided a platform for exchange of information and key actions that should be executed.

“There are specific plans for each market that I simply cannot divulge at this point in time. Tourism, because of our competition in the region, must be approached strategically as well. It is good to note that stakeholders and Ministry TEATT are on the same page when it comes to the fact that an increase in the tourism budget is necessary. Hopefully, we get there this year,” she said.

Minister Arrindell-Doncher added that product development is a very important part of overall activities, as marketing to a segment without having an adequate product will not result in repeat traffic. Some of the items in product development are:

• Tourism Awareness
• Hosting of Guests
• Trainings and Certification
• Customer Service/Service with a smile
• Tourism Exit Surveys
• Instagram/Facebook influencers marketing campaign
• Youth Programs
• Small Promoters Funds – Low Season Events
• Lifestyle and Fashion Events
• Sport Tourism – Summer of Sports events

Ms. Denica Daniel a representative of HAN HUNTU, held an information session for potential students.

hanhuntu24072017PHILIPSBURG:--- HAN HUNTU is an organization started for Dutch Caribbean students interested in pursuing their studies at the University of Applied Sciences of Arnhem & Nijmegen (Hogeschool Arnhem en Nijmegen (HAN)).

The event was facilitated by the local chapter of Unified St. Maarten Connection and the University of St. Martin.

During the information session, Ms. Daniel provided an overview of the support HAN HUNTU offers to students and answered questions about registering at the respected municipality (gemeente) upon arrival, opening a bank account and securing insurance. This information was extremely valuable for "free mover" students, who do not have the support of the Department of Study Financing to assist them in regulating these issues.

For more information about HAN HUNTU and their different activities, you are invited to visit their Facebook page:

You can also view the following YouTube video for a sneak peek into the life of a Dutch Caribbean student attending HAN:

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