PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Persons who solicit business in the Philipsburg area especially on Front Street and the Boardwalk and in Pointe Blanche near the entrance to SXM Harbour are being urged to discontinue the “illegal” practice with immediate effect.
The “aggressive” manner in which some individuals have been reported to approach visitors, to encourage them to purchase items, or use a particular service has become a major cause for concern. Several complaints reached the Ministry of TEATT on Friday last week regarding visitors being “harassed” prompting the Ministry to spring into immediate action.
Since then, a notice was issued by the Solicitor General for TEATT Miguel De Weever in which it states “Soliciting is prohibited by Law. He quoted Article 6 sub e of the National Decree on Public Transportation “Landsbesluit Personenvervoer” AB 2013, GT no.112 and art 5 sub 1c of the Public Street Vending Ordinance “Landsverordening Openbare Straathandel” AB 2013, GT no. 116 that identified ways in which a person can be considered to have violated the law. This includes any misconduct, intrusiveness and harassment in any form, to advertise, sell, barter, negotiate a good or service against the wishes of any person.
Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport, & Telecommunication TEATT, the honourable Stuart Johnson, issued a statement on Sunday in which he said he is concerned about the negative image that soliciting can create for St. Maarten. Johnson said, “We cannot allow the actions of a few persons to tarnish the image of our destination. Tourism requires the collective involvement of all parties, and as such, I am asking everyone in our community to support the effort of the Ministry of TEATT in ensuring a hassle-free visit and vacation on St. Maarten for all of our guests.”
Minister Johnson said he understands that “times are still difficult,” as many have not yet been able to return to their normal jobs. He said even though economic activities are on the increase with positive future projections, some still find it difficult to provide for their families. However, “We must not give rise to the temptation to ignore or circumvent the law as there is a much larger picture, which is the long-term sustainability of our destination. This goal cannot be accomplished if we do not collectively ensure that we take proper care of our visitors on whom we depend for our livelihood.”
To combat the negative image being created by soliciting and to protect the image of the destination, the Ministry of TEATT will begin working in collaboration with the Justice Department to conduct “a joint operation to deal with this persistent issue.” In this regard, the Ministry of TEATT in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice will be taking specific actions and or sanctions against those who fail to comply.