Saturday, Jun 06th

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Editorial - What’s going on?

The visa requirement for Colombians to visit Curaçao and St. Maarten was dropped effective July 1. Although it took another week after that for the authorities in Bogota to actually make the official announcement, both islands are hoping the measure will lead to an increase in vacationers from the South American country, but not of immigrants overstaying their welcome.

Little has been heard since on the handling of the change in practice, especially by immigration officials at the respective airports, but apparently there have been no major complaints so far either. Although expecting an instant additional passenger flow right away would be rather unrealistic, one hopes efforts are being made to benefit at least somewhat from the new situation.

The same goes for the Arke flights that are to start in November. The airline's owner, travel organisation TIU, is offering packages with local hotels, of course, but there is still plenty of room to attract "independent visitors" based on the – in any case for now – lower fares than KLM/Air France.

In general, except for a few campaigns announced, for example, on radio in the US it's simply been much too quiet regarding promotion and marketing by the Dutch side of late. And let's face it, also the planned reshuffling within the Gumbs cabinet whereby Tourism Minister Claret Connor (UP) will switch to VROMI so his current portfolio can be taken over by a new, still unknown, candidate of coalition partner Leona Marlin-Romeo doesn't exactly paint a picture of continuity and stability.

The sooner clarity is provided on the latter, the better for obvious reasons. Then again, it shouldn't really matter that much which public administrator is at the helm, because of the establishment of the St. Maarten Tourism Authority (STA) to put these matters in the hands of hospitality sector professionals.

An update on how all this is progressing certainly would not be a luxury, especially with the upcoming ministerial changes. The public needs to hear more about the industry that constitutes the island's only economic pillar and provides the livelihood of practically all who live here.

In short: What's going on?