Airlines Make Preparations as Tourism Season Ramps Up

The 2018 peak tourist season which runs from December 2018 through April 2019 looks very promising, according to the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) Management Board on Thursday.  Long-haul airline flight frequency in the first quarter of 2019 will be at 81 per cent of what it was in 2017, culminating in March 2019 at 98 per cent of 2017.

According to the Winter programme for 2018-2019, Air Transat airline has announced that it will be returning to the airport starting December 22. Air Transat was named the world’s best leisure airline in 2018. It will be rediscovering St. Maarten/St. Martin, while islanders will enjoy a weekly direct flight to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, as well as a weekly direct flight to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Air Transat flight can carry a capacity of 149 to 189 passengers. Bookings are available via local travel agencies or online at  

Divi Divi airline will be available for travellers seeking flights to Curaçao from December 10. The airline has capacity for 189 passengers and will be available for booking on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The Winter programme for 2018-2019 also shows Sunwing returning its operations on February 28, 2019, originating out of Montreal and Toronto for weekly flights on Thursdays. JetBlue flights to Fort Lauderdale have also caused a stir of interest, with daily flights originating out of Florida starting on February 14, 2019, Valentine’s Day. 

As is customary, the weekends will be the peak days in terms of scheduled aircraft movements and passengers. According to PJIA’s Operations Management, peak hours for passenger volumes will be from 12:00 through 5:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The airport saw an impressive influx of travellers during August 2018, with the 35,623 arrivals recorded and 37,706 departing passengers. The overall total passenger volume from January through September 2018 measures arrivals at 235,024 and departures at 268,344. The board is set to begin its migration process from the current pavilions in a week’s time. This will complete Package One – Temporary Operations of the reconstruction project. The team is in full overdrive and determined to be ready for the increasing passenger traffic during the start of the peak tourist season.

News Courtesy of Caribbean Gems

14 competitive teams, pristine sailing conditions and a ton of fun; the ingredients for the 15th La Course de L’Alliance

15th annual La Course de LAlliance

14 teams enjoyed spectacular sailing conditions while they battled for top honours in the 15th annual La Course de L’Alliance last weekend. This 3 day event took local and regional sailors from St Maarten to St Barts, Anguilla and back to St Maarten and can be considered the season opener for the Leeward Islands. This local favorite mixes competitive racing with social events, a recipe for success.

In the Racing Class there was the battle between the Melges 24s, Frits Bus’ Team Island World vs FKG/Gill Race Team with additional competition from Solstice, the J105 skippered by Ian Hope-Ross and St Maarten Heineken Regatta overall winner Wanna B, skippered by Jan van der Eynde. 2 bullets by Team Island Water World ensured first place overall, but an intense race from start to finish on the final day decided 2nd place for Solstice and 3rdplace for FKG/Gill Race Team. Maelia and Speedy Nemo, teams from St Barts, brought up the rear.

“This really is my favourite regatta. It is the season opener, and a great chance for the crews from the different islands to meet and socialise in beautiful locations. But though the atmosphere is friendly, the competition is fierce, and it was great to see such tight racing amongst such good teams” says Race Officer Paul Miller.

Cruising Class saw 3 participants, MoonDance, a Catalina 36 skippered by Garth Steyn, Nix, a X612 recently returned for the racing season and Out of Africa skippered by Hans van Mameren. Nix took the lead on day 1 but needed to retire on day 2 due to a broken main halyard, which allowed MoonDance to claim first place overall.

Five multihulls competed in the Multihull Class, but it was Tryst, the iconic Caribbean Multihull built in 1968, that really stole the show. Winning the first and last day, and a 2nd place on day two, Bernard “Appie” Stoutenbeek claimed 1st place overall. Seaduction and Spellbound, 2 local charter boats, joined fervently in the racing whilst competing in their own ‘battle between the charter boats’. On both accounts Spellbound proved to be the winner, taking 2nd place overall and ‘best charter boat’.

“The racing was hot, and still the participants had energy left to enjoy the socials in St Barts and Anguilla. That’s why this event is so popular, the concept of racing to 2 other islands and then enjoy the finest of the Caribbean is golden. We thank the St Barts Yacht Club & Sailing School and the Anguilla Sailing Association for their assistance with the event, the cooperation is vital for the Regatta’s continuation and success.” States Leonde Vermeulen, Event Manager at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club, organizer of the event.

Organizers like to thank sponsors Moorings, Fiji Water and Mount Gay Rum for their contributions to the event. “Not only do our sponsors help to reduce costs, they add significant quality to the event. They are not only appreciated by the organizers, but by the participants as well. We are grateful for the ongoing support.” Explains Vermeulen.

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Chamber to Break Ground to Construct Economic Service Center by Year End

coci1newlogosmThe St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce and Industry (COCI) is expected to break ground for the construction of its Economics Service Center (ESC) on Walter Nisbeth Road near the former Air Lekkerbek restaurant by the end of this year.  Plans for the ESC are currently being finalized.  Once completed, it will be an eco-friendly and state-of-the-art facility with 18 lease-to-own units that small business will be able to lease or purchase outright to expand their business and increase their customers reach.  The facility will have more than 97 parking spaces with full service office from which COCI will offer improved customer service.


News courtesy of Caribbean Gems.

‘Innovative’ regatta organisers praised

     Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Stuart Johnson has heaped praised on the “innovative” St. Maarten Heineken Regatta organisers for their plans to “deliver the ideal serious sailing fun” at the 39th edition of the regatta come March 2019. Sailors can look forward to another stunning sailing event that “will once again exceed the expectation of all those who attend for some serious sailing fun,” said Johnson in a press statement on Sunday. A new class for boats crewed by two people has been added to the regatta line-up due to its increasing popularity of this kind of racing. The popularity has grown since 2013 when a father and son crew won the Rolex Fastnet Race.

    Double-handed racing, according to regatta organisers, is an excellent opportunity to increase sailing skills which can then be used when racing on fully-crewed boats and a smaller crew means less people to manage and logistics to organise.  “The addition of the two-handed crew race shows that after 38-plus years, the regatta is an institution within the maritime sector of the country which has adapted over time and evolves with sailing trends making it the leading regatta in the north eastern Caribbean,” said Johnson.


News courtesy Caribbean Gems

Nature Foundation to Launch Online Marine Park Tag System

naturefoundationTo overcome issues with over the counter diver’s tag payment and to profit from new trends in how tourists use the Internet to plan their vacations, St. Maarten Nature Foundation has been working with the Reef Support B.V. to develop an online payment system.  Nature Foundation, together with other islands of the Dutch Caribbean since 1997, has been the worldwide example for charging an environmental user fee to users of the National Marine Parks. 

The current dive tag system has issues keeping up with demand. Production cost, administration, risk management, and logistics were becoming more and more costly and time consuming.  “The online system will allow visiting divers and other Marie Park users to prepay their tags before arrival to their dive shop.  With his system we hope to reduce the efforts of making over-the-counter sales of our Marine Park diver tags.


News Courtesy of Caribbean Gems

SCDF Making Coloring Book for Carnival Icons

stjohndevelopmentfoundationSt. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) will produce a children’s colouring book for Carnival 2019 as one of the many projects to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Carnival.  SCDF said last week that it is actively trying to revive the youth participation and interest in cultural aspects of Carnival and has chosen to do so starting with the children in elementary levels. 

SCDF President Alston Lourens said that the coloring book will feature about 15 pages of Carnival icons and things typical to Carnival.  Well-known Carnival artistes and other stake-holders will be depicted as well as Carnival trucks, something representative of the pageants and more. All drawings are being done by local tattoo artist Chris Forde. Lourens said the books will be distributed to children free of charge “The coloring book will not just be pictures in color. We will also include basic information about each person and thing included in the coloring book. 


News Courtesy of Caribbean Gems

Port De Plaisance Yacht Club Prepared for Yachting Season

Yacht Club Port de Plaisance

Port de Plaisance Yacht Club General Manager Jesse Peterson said last week that the facility will be fully operational for the upcoming yachting season. After the devastation of Hurricane Irma, it has been the management team’s number one priority to repair, rebuild and upgrade the marina to welcome back their customers. 

“I am extremely pleased to announce that with the help of our management team and staff members, Yacht Club Port de Plaisance is making great progress with the rebuilding and refurbishment of the facility and we are on track to be fully ready for the season that is quickly approaching,” said Yacht Club Manager Jesse Peterson.


News Courtesy of Caribbean Gems