View over Philipsburg from Pointe Blanche side on St Maarten / St Martin





After Hurricane Irma in 2017, a large part of St Maarten was destroyed. That resulted in tourists staying away for quite some time, tourism picked up at a gradual pace after a year. Shortly, followed by the corona pandemic in 2020 the tourism industry took a hit, for the following two years.



Holidaymakers returned home and were few and far between. During that time the World Bank published the tourism figures which stated that St Maarten’s economy was about 85 percent dependent on tourism.



St Maarten received a substantial amount of money from the Netherlands totaling 141.7 million euros in interest-free loans. Raymond Knops, State Secretary for Kingdom Relations (CDA) created a long list of stipulations for both long and short term loans. Admittedly, a major reform of the financial sector and economy are one of the many conditions listed.



Hurricane Irma and the Pandemic both showed that the high dependence on tourism makes the economy susceptible. Because of this, St Maarten should develop various sectors not only being reliant on tourism. According to a spokesperson for the current State Secretary for Kingdom Relations, Alexandra van Huffelen, “How the country wants to achieve that dot, is up to the country itself”.



Despite being told to put their eggs in various baskets, the island has been investing more in the tourism sector. For example, St Maarten just closed a deal with the Royal Caribbean Group, providing the opportunity of at least one thousand jobs for residents.



While many know the tourism sector is fragile, no one is certain that St Maarten should diversify its economy.



So, is investing in tourism the solution?



Read full Dutch article here