January and February occupancy figures for St. Maarten return to 2008 levels

POSTED: 04/15/12 4:35 PM

Hoteliers expecting good first quarter

St. Maarten – Hotel occupancy rates may soon show an upward trend for the first quarter of the year. The official figures are expected next week but Executive Director of the St.Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) Valya Pantophlet says individual hoteliers appear very optimistic that their combined data would surpass those of 2011.
Room occupancy statistics for January was at 80% while February was at 84.7 %. The figures appear to be mirroring those of 2008 which showed 81.4 % and 83.5% respectively for the corresponding two months.
Just last month the SHTA projected that occupancy levels would increase slowly. This has been attributed in part to the “new approach by our hotels to offer low rates or value added deals in order to increase occupancy levels” and compete with other destinations. Occupancy has increased by an average 6% since November 2011.
The economic slump at the end of 2008 resulted in the disposable income of many travellers being slashed by more than 70%. This affected the mainstay of many Caribbean economies; tourism. But the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) admitted that the “Caribbean tourism industry is holding its own, remaining afloat and resilient amidst turbulence in the marketplace.”
In its annual report presented at the association’s general meeting, SHTA said that “according to various sources, consumers are finally loosening the purse strings after four years of saving more to restore wealth lost in the housing crash and the 2008 stock drop. Even those with sizable debt are now willing to dip into savings to buy essentials, including big-ticket items.”
The SHTA has however cautioned that it could take some time before the island sees a return to early 2008 levels.

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