Today’s report that Moody’s has put St. Maarten’s issuer rating “under review” due to the passage of catastrophic Hurricane Irma adds to the increasingly sober picture regarding the immediate future. With 90 per cent of buildings damaged, the reconstruction cost is estimated at more than 100 per cent of the annual gross domestic product (GDP).
However, much will depend on private insurance and external support. Several insurance firms have already indicated that they are financially stable and sufficiently backed by reinsurers to comply with their commitments.
Less positive are indications that more resorts, including some large timeshare properties, may close for the entire winter period. The negative impact of such a development on the tourism economy would be enormous and surpass that of also very destructive Hurricane Luis 22 years ago by far.
Nevertheless, efforts to make the best of the upcoming season with whatever available rooms are left ought to be strongly encouraged. After the widespread flooding and devastation of Hurricane Lenny in November 1999, disaster relief money from the Netherlands was used for – among other things – emergency marketing funds to help get the local hospitality industry back on track and something similar is now certainly called for.
The island faces an extremely difficult year ahead, but all the assistance coming in and the long-term commitment shown by major companies will help its population overcome what is no doubt going to be a time of considerable hardship. As inhabitants have proven time and again in case of huge setbacks, when the going gets tough the tough get going.
Bron: Daily Herald