In her opening keynote address yesterday at the fifth-annual Caribavia conference, Ludmila De Weever, St. Maarten's minister of tourism, economic affairs, transportation, and telecommunication, addressed the pandemic's impact on aviation operations in the island nation. After being canceled last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the event, which focuses on air transportation issues and solutions in the region, is being held this week in St. Maarten.
“If this pandemic confirmed anything about St. Maarten’s economy it’s that nothing could be more important for a small, tourism-based island than having sustained airlift and reliable aviation partners,” she told the audience of aviation professionals. “The fact that we are gathered here today, in person is a testament to how far we’ve come since the airplanes stopped landing over a year ago.”
She stressed that any strategy to expand the island’s economy must include aviation as an essential component. “It’s the catalyst to keeping us attractive and competitive in the global tourism market.” De Weever noted that May arrivals from the key U.S. market exceeded the totals from May 2019 before the start of the pandemic, while overall traffic to the airport has reached 85 percent of its pre-Covid levels.