Tourism development on St. Maarten is now necessary to compensate for the large product-loss suffered after Irma. There is a growing sentiment on the island that tourism does not benefit individuals, but rather large corporations. The country needs to find new ways to have tourist dollars reach the less fortunate and developing entrepreneurs. Bringing tourism to the districts is one such way.
A Sustainable Development and Economic Diversification Committee for Parliament
St. Maarten has recognized its need to diversify its economy, especially in the wake of Irma where the island has taken a hit in tourism. While St. Maarten will always have a tourism product, identifying other industries that can sustainably developed on the island, with minimal leakage (as much money as possible stays within the economy) and to the benefit of its people, this should be a number 1 priority by both the legislative and executive branches of government.
To compound the fact that tourism is not as a prominent subject in schools (see related goal for Tourism in Schools), our youth has very little involvement in tourism initiated by government. The youth often feel that they do not have a voice about what they think tourism means to them, and what the island should look like in the future from a tourism perspective.
Tourism Support for Sports
There has been a lot of talk about sports tourism being an important tourism development that needs to take place. However, the issue has been that sports itself must be developed on the island first – so your product development - before it can be promoted internationally as a viable product. The problem with marketing sports tourism is that if tourism funding does not also partially go into the development of sports itself, then the product will never be attractive enough, and your marketing dollars will be wasted.
Tourism in the schools – retired hospitality veterans or displaced hospitality
St. Maarten’s primary and secondary schools do not all currently teach tourism as a subject in school. This is quite surprising to think about when we know that almost 90% of our GDP is derived from tourism dollars. Not having a population educated in even the most fundamental aspects of tourism industry may lead to the population not having enough of an appreciation of the industry to give the right service, but also learn the ways in which the tourism industry can work for them, bettering their own lives.
Technology Free Zone
St. Maarten is in urgent need of diversifying its economy. The island must attract new investors, but as we know, new investment comes at the price of having to offer something in return. We have to find a way to attract businesses that will employ local labor at good wages, that can get up and running relatively quickly, and that government can benefit in multiple ways rather than just taxation.