Citizens of St Maarten,

September 27th has been declared World Tourism Day by the United Nations World Tourism organization. The theme for this year is “1 Billion Tourists 1 Billion opportunities”

This year, the emphasis is on highlighting the awareness of the global impact of tourism on the economies, the environments and the populations of the world.

In St. Maarten, tourism is the pinnacle of our economy. It creates jobs, promotes sports, culture and promotes the sustainable use of our marine environment. We can attest to the impact of tourism on our society as it is a valuable source of livelihood for a great percentage of our population.

As the number of cruise passengers grow and the number of stay over guests increase, so will our economy grow?

While we are proud of our tourism product, the ever changing needs of the industry and the increasing expectations of our visitors, is forcing us to create more opportunities and better services for our guests.

Our success would be determined by our ability to anticipate these changes and to put the necessary mechanisms in place in order to meet and surpass our visitors’ expectations.

On this World Tourism Day, as the Minister with responsibility for tourism, I will like to say a heartfelt thank you to every resident of this great country who has worked in whatever capacities in helping to showcase our tourism product to the world.

Whether you have worked at our ports of entry, our hotels, restaurants, stores, casinos, car rental, taxi driver, police officer or in whatever area of this economy, you have either effected or been affected by this great phenomenon called tourism.

I salute you all for your contributions to this industry.

So as we celebrate World Tourism Day, I challenge every stakeholder in this valuable industry, to work together with me and my ministry, so that we can provide memorable lasting experiences for our guests.

In so doing, we are proudly demonstrating our commitment and strong contribution to the transformative potential of one billion tourists.

Have a happy World Tourism Day