Ottley celebrates return to ‘pre-COVID’ arrival numbers on World Tourism Day

Minister of VSA Omar Ottley


PHILIPSBURG— As we welcome new and returning visitors to our shores and lift travel restrictions following the impact of the global pandemic COVID-19 on travel and commerce over the past two years and ten months, the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day fittingly encourages “Rethinking Tourism.”

Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation & Telecommunication (TEATT), the honourable Omar Ottley, said he is encouraged by the statistics showing visitor arrivals for 2022. Minister Ottley noted, “For Quarter one of 2022, we received 101,919 arrivals, the highest performing Quarter since 2017, while for Quarter 2 and 3, we received an estimate of 421,416 arrivals, also the highest performing since 2017.”

“Perhaps more so now than in times past, the people of St. Maarten deserve to celebrate today, World Tourism Day, with pride. I must commend the restauranteurs, bartenders and servers, Hoteliers and employees, transportation industry workers Taxi Drivers, Tour Operators and those in the Car Rental Agencies for their dedication and commitment to the growth of our tourism industry over the years,” said Ottley.

“From the businessman and woman throughout the island to the men and women who keep our island clean, your significant contributors to our economy and tourism industry make you unsung heroes.”

“I commend you for your contribution over the years to our tourism product which has made it easy for us to build our economy back stronger,” said Ottley.

Ottley said that the United States (US) and European markets have already exceeded pre-COVID-19 numbers. “The US and European markets are showing full recovery after the pandemic and exceeding pre-pandemic numbers in visitor arrivals,” said Ottley.

The Minister did note that the arrival numbers from the Canadian Market and South America and the Caribbean markets are slow to improve mainly due to travel restrictions from the origin countries and reduced flight frequency.

Despite the challenge in some areas, the projected growth rate for 2022 in Airline and Cruise passenger arrivals still stands at 20-30%. This projection translates to around 500,000 passenger movements on more than 3400 flights at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) and approximately 1 million cruise passengers with hopes of returning to pre-COVID-19 arrival numbers in 2023.