Draft timeshare legislation meets need for regulation

POSTED: 01/31/13 11:42 AM

St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams hopes to see a speedy handling of the draft timeshare legislation in Parliament.  The legislation was recently presented by Democratic Party MP Leroy de Weever, who was commended by Wescot-Williams for the initiative. She said that timeshare owners should not be taken “for granted” and apart from de Weever coming from her faction, she welcomes the move because the “timeshare industry on St. Maarten is in dire need of regulation and legislation.”

De Weever wants the establishment of a timeshare authority, consumer protection and more regulation of aspects of the industry such as resale agreements and licensing. For this to be realized, Parliament would have to agree to an amendment of the Civil Code.

Several years ago, the process was started but it did not result in any regulation in the timeshare industry, the prime minister said during yesterday’s Council of Ministers press conference.

“Since that time much has happened in the timeshare industry, some good and some bad,” she stated while lauding those timeshare resorts that have maintained excellent standards over the years.

“Especially during the past holiday season, reports reaching me of timeshare owners, some of them having timeshare for decades, are turning their backs on their timeshare on St. Maarten.  In fact, it has been speculated that at some resorts on St. Maarten, even if you were to offer someone a unit for free they would not accept it for the reason that everything that comes with owning a unit is not worth it.”

Apart from exorbitant maintenance fees and burdensome legalities, timeshare owners have been complaining about neglect. They have consistently highlighted that while the timeshare industry spends a lot of money on the island and offers more stability, cruise ship passengers are the ones who are given priority by the government.

The head of government called on tourism authorities and the government to pay more attention to timeshare owners.

“The government of St. Maarten, the tourism authorities in particular, should pay more attention to these visitors on island, letting them know we appreciate their business and visits to St. Maarten.”

The prime minister explained that there are some families that have been coming to the island for close to 30 years and this should not be taken for granted.

St. Maarten’s top ranking in Caribbean vacation sites by various travel groups should be maintained; treatment of timeshare owners and the island’s attempts to have year round tourism will contribute to this, the prime minister said.

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