PHILIPSBURG:--- The SHTA expressed great sadness in the wake of Hurricane Sandy which dealt severe damage to the communities of the North East; New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut among others. This area is the base of our tourism product, many of our vacation homes and timeshare owners are from this area and undoubtedly they will have difficult times ahead. We here in St. Maarten know only too well what Hurricane damage can do to the spirit of individuals, and damaged property it leaves behind. With this in mind we pray for swift recovery for those areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.
With a large percent of St. Maarten's business generated by individuals and families coming from the affected areas that include Boston, New York, Washington and Philadelphia, St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association SHTA has expressed its concern that the 2012 tourism season could be met with lack of demand and a surge in cancellations. To this end the SHTA is again calling for the swift implementation of the St. Maarten Tourist Authority STA which would be able to more nimbly react to worldwide developments and execute marketing strategies without the extended bureaucracy that currently delays any real action.
Now with our primary market in disarray caused by Hurricane Sandy, we are concerned about the effect on discretionary spending of these individuals which will ultimately have a trickledown effect on our economy. Already analysts in Jamaica have predicted that Hurricane Sandy's effects on the Northeast United States could have a devastating effect on Jamaica's tourism industry, because the Northeast is Jamaica's largest source market and a disruption of amenities in that part of the world would automatically have an impact on the fortunes of Jamaica.
This hurdle is by itself a major concern, but compounded by the lack of a proper marketing plan for St. Maarten and the fact that the competition for vacation spending in general is very fierce; especially amongst our neighboring island whose target is the same source market; and as a rule is far better organized than we are, the depth of the impact on St. Maarten economy could be significant.
SHTA Press Release