PHILIPSBURG – It has not gone unnoticed that timeshare users of units on St. Maarten have been very vocal as of late regarding the draft law to establish a timeshare authority.
“There is quite a history behind the proposal to establish a Timeshare Authority, starting with a motion passed in Parliament on June 29, 2011 to establish a ‘timeshare regulatory body,’” explained Member of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams.
With the help and involvement of many, in and outside of government/parliament and the timeshare industry, two draft initiatives were tabled by former MP P. Leroy de Weever. One initiative regarded the timeshare ordinance and the second one a timeshare authority.
With several changes to both these initiatives, especially the language part and the part of not including the “timeshare ordinance” in the civil code, these ordinances were again picked up by the DP faction, leading to the approval by parliament of the timeshare ordinance.
The timeshare authority draft was also put into procedure. When the text of this draft became known, several stakeholders raised serious concerns.
“The St. Maarten Timeshare Association being one of those stakeholders formally requested me, as the faction in Parliament that tabled the draft to consider granting the association a period of 90 days for review of the draft. This request was granted, a gesture that was appreciated by the SMTA and the ROC (Resort Owners Coalition) by letters of March 28 and 24, 2017, respectively,” said Wescot-Williams.
Clearly the original intention to create the Timeshare Authority came at a time when the industry was in turmoil. Letters abound from timeshare users about the lack of protection and legislation of this vital industry.
“I can picture the initial discussion about these laws, being with a focus on including in the laws everything that could probably lead to an issue and giving the Timeshare Authority far reaching powers to address such. So as well-intentioned as these decisions were, they have led to a rather heavy-handed draft to institute the timeshare authority,” she continued.
Somewhere in the discussions, the timeshare authority draft, was amended to also include a change to the room tax ordinance from NAf. 90, to NAf. 102 per week.
“I therefore await the reactions by the SMTA and possibly others, and with my own sentiments as described above, am willing to – after more than 5 years since the inception – have frank discussions about the need or not for a Timeshare Authority, and if so, how sweeping should the authority of this body be,” Wescot-Williams concluded.