|From left to right, Chairman of the Supervisory Board Gary Matser (back left); shop owner at SXM Airport (Aunt Clara’s Ice Cream) Clara Connor; Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication Claret Connor; Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs; Managing Director of SXM Airport Regina LaBega; Chairman of the Princess Juliana International Airport Holding Company Michel Hodge|
Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs cut the ceremonial ribbon Wednesday to officially open the renovated departure lounge at the Princess Juliana International Airport on St. Maarten.
He was accompanied by the Claret Connor, minister of tourism, economic affairs, transport and telecommunications (TEATT); Gary Matser, chairman of the supervisory board of directors and Regina LaBega, managing director of the Princess Juliana International Airport.
In his address, the Prime Minister spoke to more than 400 people reminiscing about the days when he used to work at the airport when there was no departure hall to speak of and just one or two concessionaires. He congratulated the management team led by LaBega for this achievement and added that an in-transit facility was also needed.
“The whole idea of this departure lounge was to enhance the passenger experience and consequently move the passenger to spend more at the first-class duty free stores in the lounge,” LaBega said in a written statement.
Guests were wowed not only by the impressive departure lounge but also by the well-planned, and well-coordinated ceremony that featured the island’s culture at its best. Upon arrival, guests were handed “first-class boarding passes” that allowed them access to the gates where the evening’s activities unfolded.
Emphasis was placed on the youth, as a steel band orchestra comprising young musicians welcomed guests while students of the Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performing Arts thrilled the audience with two well-received song and dance acts. Another group of young dancers clad in white, brought excitement to the event as they danced suspended in the air and in between columns. A live band and a DJ kept the party going at the reception to the satisfaction of the guests.