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Frans confident about GOL agreement after new branding launched in Brazil

Page1A219~ Maho Group also has strong presence ~

BRAZIL--“The current charter flights from Brazil are booked solid and we are confident about adding more,” Commissioner of Tourism Frans Richardson said on Tuesday, speaking from São Paulo, Brazil. He alluded to upcoming meetings with GOL Airline executives in an effort to secure a year-round bi-weekly flight from Brazil.

Richardson is in Brazil this week following up on tourism opportunities for St. Maarten. The visit comes in the wake of a visit made to the ABAV Tradeshow in Brazil last year. St. Maarten has been looking at its positioning strategy as it relates to the vital South American market, which has been labelled by market industry experts as the fastest-growing and most vibrant tourism market in the Western hemisphere.

Richardson’s week-long itinerary includes the launching of St. Maarten’s new branding strategy in Brazil. He said this had been very impressive for the Brazilians. He will also meet with Brazil’s largest tour operator CVC and have a series of other meetings, none more important than his meeting with officials of GOL Airlines on Thursday.

“We recognize how important this market can be for our tourism product. Securing of agreements with South American carriers, using Venezuela as a hub, is one of the areas of interest for St. Maarten, which remains interested in enhancing its efforts to meet objectives as a year-round tourism destination. We are eager, with the branding strategy and other factors, to showcase St. Maarten’s potential to South American airlines,” Richardson said.

GOL will be seeking assistance from St. Maarten in aggressively marketing the flight to ensure its success. When airlines start servicing an island, Richardson explained, they tend to want to feel secure that the destination will do its share towards the success of the service.

In that context, he expressed his thanks to the Sonesta Maho Group for being present at the event. “The Maho Group continues to show that it is a true partner with the Island Government. I was told their presence here in Brazil at this event is the first time in 12 years a hotel in a foreign destination has shown the level of interest that Maho does,” Richardson said.

As for the launching of St. Maarten’s new branding, Richardson said the Brazilians had expressed awe at the visuals of St. Maarten and the potential for business here. He said he personally had given a number of interviews to approximately 60 journalists, who will now feature St. Maarten in their respective publications throughout Brazil.

“There is a reason that so many destinations are looking towards South America and in particular Brazil. While many countries in the world were hard hit by the recession, Brazil is one of the few that weathered the recession. Since 2003 more than 20 million of the 198 million people in Brazil have risen above poverty and 32 million have entered the middle class,” Richardson said.

“They are a vibrant travelling market, which is a direct spin-off of their strong economy. They also view the Caribbean as a preferred destination, which is evident from the fact that our current charter flights with GOL are booked solid, in some cases overbooked. St. Maarten is taking into consideration that the competition in the region has increased significantly and that St. Maarten should step up its efforts to take advantage of the vibrant Brazilian travel market.”

Exceptional long-term growth is forecast for Brazil, which is expected to be the fifth largest economy in the world in five to 10 years.



Starlight closed, no info forthcoming

page3a218ST. PETERS--Teachers and students at Starlight Education Centre were captured standing on the porch of the school around 10:00am on Monday, with the entrance to the school tightly padlocked.

  Reports reaching this newspaper indicated that the school had been closed since last week Wednesday and that students at one point had been accommodated at a sports complex in Philipsburg.

  However, Starlight Director Carmen Hodge declined to comment on the situation or to give clarity when contacted by The Daily Herald yesterday. She did not confirm or deny that the school had been closed and only said she had nothing to say at this time as she had been “working on something,” referring to an apparent solution.

  One year ago, in January 2009, Starlight made headlines when marshals placed padlocks on the grilled doors at the entrance of the school in keeping with a court order of April 2008, in which Hodge was given two days to vacate the premises. She had not heeded that order as she said she neither had the funds nor an alternative location. She eventually found a solution with the aid of some anonymous business persons and the school was reopened after a month.

  Some 180 students, ten teachers and a cleaner were affected by the closure at that time. However, the details of the current closure could not be ascertained.

  Starlight is one of an estimated 10 schools catering to hundreds of primarily undocumented immigrant children in St. Maarten, who in the past were barred from mainstream education.

  In August 2009 Leader of Government and Education Commissioner William Marlin reopened Charles Leopold Bell School in Cole Bay to accommodate children without residence papers, in keeping with the government’s commitment to facilitating compulsory education.

  This phased introduction of compulsory education is expected to continue to allow older children to enter mainstream education.

Heyliger questions why PJIA can’t give back to community

Page4A218PHILIPSBURG--Commissioner in charge of Public Works Theo Heyliger has questioned why management of Princess Juliana International Airport can’t give back to the community it serves. The Commissioner was responding to the many complaints and calls about a deplorable stretch of road in Simpson Bay with pleas to repair it post haste.

  The road is filled with huge pot holes and water is constantly settling on the road, eroding the foundation. While not shirking his responsibility to solve the problem, the Commissioner said the drainage problem on this road was created when a portion of the lagoon was filled in by PJIA. As a result, the water cannot flow into the lagoon and settles on the road. Compounding matters is the fact that this area also happens to be one of the lowest lying areas in Simpson Bay.

  Heyliger said he had approached President of PJIAE Eugene Holiday on numerous occasions with the proposal to patch or pave the road, considering government’s liquidity situation. The Commissioner added that the repairs to the road could also be taken up in PJIA’s plans to expand the runway.

  “He simply refused,” Heyliger said. “Why can’t the airport, sitting on US $87 million, give back to a nearby community and have a simple patch of road fixed? I have asked Mr. Holiday to consider doing so with the construction of PJIA’s roundabout as well as on other occasions, but he refused. If the Harbour can recognize its role to its community and fixes potholes and contributes to infrastructure improvements, why can’t the airport simply give back? They created the problem,” Heyliger said.

  He said the little available funds are being earmarked for the major roads. “However, I will continue to work diligently on finding a solution for this road,” Heyliger concluded.

Sundial student stabs another boy

PHILIPSBURG--A Sundial School student stabbed another boy at the school Monday, hospitalising the victim.

  The details are unclear, but The Daily Herald understands that one student took a blade and stabbed another in the elbow, in the chest and in the back. This newspaper was told the wound to the back was the worst. Police did not have an official report up to press time Monday.

  It is the second violent report related to local schools in four days. The first, a shooting from a school bus Friday, shocked the community. Police held nine teens in that incident.

Porto Cupecoy to create employment for over 200

page1a217page8b217~ William: It brings out best of St. Maarten ~

CUPECOY--When Porto Cupecoy is fully operational, it is expected to create jobs for over 200 residents, Leader of Government Commissioner William Marlin told the large group of persons who attended the grand opening of the US $150 million property Friday evening.

The Orient Express Hotels property is a luxury seaside village featuring 182 apartments and 20 retail spaces which include four restaurants, a supermarket, boutiques, pharmacy, hair salon and other establishments in which primarily local persons will be employed. Work will also be created in maintenance, housekeeping, in management and in its luxury marina and in other areas.

Marlin said the property, whose upscale apartments combine European elegance with Caribbean flavours, is unique as it does not resemble any other property here. "The setting in which it is has brought out the best of St. Maarten," Marlin said.

Porto Cupecoy Project Director Bernard Sarme went a step further saying that he was so confident in the sturdiness of the property that he is not concerned about hurricanes or earthquakes. "We have quite a few thousand tonnes of concrete below ground and above ground and...I do not care if there is an earthquake or a hurricane, it will never move. You can buy this place and feel quite secure," Sarme declared.

Marlin, who helped to cut the ribbon to officially open the property, described Porto Cupecoy as "magnificent."

He was high in praises to the developer for having confidence in local contractors, about nine of whom, along with several sub contractors and other resident workers, helped construct the property.

Marlin said government would like to build a police substation in the Lowlands/Cupecoy area and said Sarme had assured him that he will speak to property owners in the area on the possibilities of obtaining a location for this to be realised. Marlin said this will be a "win, win, win," situation.

Calling the project an "important development," Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Orient Express, Filip Boyen, said the project had taken five years and "more than a few grey hairs" to become a reality. He said he was proud of the achievement and he was thankful to the people and the government of St. Maarten and grateful to the developer for the fantastic work. "I’ve travelled all over the world and I can say there is a special sense of excitement in St. Maarten that bodes well for the future of the island and for the continued success of this project," he said.

Sarme said it had been a "long battle" to bring the project to reality and a lot of people had given him "grey hairs." He said the goal is to eventually create a shopping centre at the property to help complete the all-inclusive setting and to avoid traffic woes. "I figured if I have a nice place here with nice shops and nice parking, people won’t have to travel to Philipsburg and Marigot; we can have everything here under one roof," he said.

He was high in praises to those who helped to bring the project to reality, including the team from Energiser N.V., whom he said completed their last building hours before the opening, in keeping with their word that they will complete it.

Over 70 per cent of the apartments have also been sold, Vice President Director of Global Real Estate Phillip Geus told The Daily Herald.

Porto Cupecoy embodies the characteristics of a true Mediterranean village with high-end shopping, dining, services and amenities, in addition to residences and a luxury marina.

Porto Cupecoy embodies the characteristics of a true Mediterranean village with high-end shopping, dining, services and amenities, in addition to its residences and marina.

The architectural inspiration for the property is Portofino, located on the Italian Riviera, and the community is similarly anchored around a marina, the most exclusive and upscale on the island.

The marina has a unique structure in that the majority of yacht slips will be owned by the community’s residents and rented on their behalf by the marina management, when they are not in use. The prices for yacht slips, including mega yacht slips up to 200 feet in length, range from US $150,000 to US $3 million.

Homeowners will be able to enjoy a wide range of on-site amenities, including tennis courts, swimming pools, several dining options, as well as concierge and "white-glove" marina services. For residents interested in renting out their home or boat slip while not in use, the community has its own dedicated professional on-site vacation rental management programme, which will create hassle-free rental revenue for owners. The beach is immediately across the street, 50 yards from the community’s entrance.

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