SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) – Monday, September 27, marks World Tourism Day (WTD) 2021 under the theme “Tourism for Inclusive Growth.”
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive social and economic impact. “Both developed and developing economies have been hit. And marginalized groups and the most vulnerable have been hit hardest of all. The restart of tourism will help kickstart recovery and growth. It is essential that the benefits this will bring are enjoyed widely and fairly.”
Travel can be life-changing, when asking individuals, “what makes you come back to Sint Maarten?” The response most often is, “The Friendly People”. We have one of the highest return visitor rates, people truly love coming back to Sint Maarten, year after year. As often described by visitors, “I feel welcomed, I feel at home”.
“This year’s theme, Tourism for Inclusive Growth, is near to my heart, it sides to the importance of everyone coming together and being included, which is extremely important for growth. I want to thank everyone for your continued dedication in making Sint Maarten a destination of choice. With approximately 80% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) being made up of tourism, it is important for us to acknowledge and celebrate this day.
“Let us celebrate our people who continue to make a positive impact on our guests, let us celebrate the individuals of our Island who continue to drive destination demand, and who tirelessly continue to make our destination desirable. People continue to return to Sint Maarten because of how they “feel” here, we are, The Friendly Island”, shared Minister Lawrence.
The past 18 months have been very difficult, but we have led in tourism, and we are an example of what can be accomplished. In the past months, we saw a positive increase in visitors, and we can look forward to a busy upcoming high season, and therefore, we have much to celebrate.
“We had to reopen our destination more than a year ago in order to ensure economic recovery and that the business community, and our citizens recover and grow after the shutdown. This safe restart was essential as we continue moving our way through the pandemic, behind every person there is story to tell on how it has transformed us as a community and how it prepared us for our reopening,” stated May-Ling Chun, Director of Tourism.
“Once again, I applaud all the women and men working in our tourism sectors, to the frontline workers, the business community, investors, entrepreneurs, and to my teams, I thank you for all you do, we are making a difference.
“I also want to thank Member of Parliament (MP) Ludmila De Weever, former minister of TEATT, for her work in tourism. Let us continue to work together for when we do, we achieve more. Let’s be optimistic, for the future is bright. Happy World Tourism Day,” Minister Lawrence said on Sunday.
WTD is celebrated each year on 27 September. It is a global observance creating awareness about tourism’s social, cultural, political, and economic value and contribution that the sector makes towards national development.