Travelers are returning to St. Maarten in strong numbers as the island reports a 131 percent increase in arrivals from January to June 2019 compared to the same period last year, according to the latest statistics from the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau. The destination has seen a number of important hotel re-openings in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019, coupled with major airlines increasing service to the island. Tour operators are also reporting strong numbers, including quadruple digit percentage growth in sales and room nights, the tourist bureau said.
Between January and June of this year, St. Maarten welcomed 171,543 visitors, of which 107,968 were from North America: 92,285 from the United States and 15,683 from Canada. In contrast, the island welcomed 177,589 visitors between January and December 2018, including 67,533 from the United States and 9,162 from Canada.
The St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) has also reported strong hotel occupancy rates for the first six months of the year with averages of 81.9 percent for the first quarter of 2019 and 71.4 percent for the second quarter of this year
“These numbers highlight how much we have improved since Hurricane Irma and show the resilience of our people,” said St. Maarten’s Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication, The Honorable Stuart Johnson, in a written statement.
Nearly two years after the passing of hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017, infrastructure on St. Maarten has made great strides in returning to normal, the tourist bureau said.
Delta, American Airlines, JetBlue, United Airlines and Spirit Airlines have all returned with regular service. Regular flights from Toronto and Montréal on Air Canada, Sunwing and Air Transat have also resumed. The airport expects to be fully operational by the first quarter of 2020.
Over 65 percent of hotels, and time-shares throughout the island have now re-opened. Additionally, nearly all on-island activities, from zip-lining, ATV tours, and horseback riding to sailing, kayaking, scuba diving and rum tastings, are available, the tourist bureau said.