SHTA-director Harley positive about upcoming tourist season

POSTED: 11/26/12 2:28 PM

GREAT BAY – The new Executive Director of the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) Alfred Harley, is looking forward with enthusiasm and excitement towards his new function within the association. “Being the new Executive Director is a huge responsibility and of course a great honor,” Harley says.

“To work as a journalist for years, to a very large extent, helps a lot,” he says. “The ideal situation for my experience in journalism is that I am able to contribute when it comes to preparing documents for the SHTA in a positive way. One of the benefits was to see the change and growth of St. Maarten as well as to report the positive impact on the economy. But on the other hand you saw the negative things such as crime, so you could really see what was happening on this island.”

Harley has a history in St. Kitts and Nevis as well to manage on a high level in the trade industry at UTS Cariglobe “Chippie” and he was the Assistant Manager at the Four Season Hotel. These factors of journalism, tourism, and trade are making Alfred Harley a perfect man for the job. But to do his job the best he says; “Don’t forget to add the passion for St. Maarten. The island is my home, and is always in my heart.”

The SHTA has experienced a significant growth throughout the years, and it continues to be the voice of hospitality and the private sector. “My vision is to bring the plans of the SHTA and the executive board together and to move completely to a so called umbrella structure,” Harley says. “This structure can contain different types of businesses, for example; real estate, small and large hotels, restaurant divisions, the Indian Merchants Association and others. This will be developed into one voice instead of several little voices.”

Although Harley is looking forward to the upcoming season, he still has some concerns. “With the passing of hurricane Sandy we have to see how that part of our tourism is going to develop, given the fact that 50 percent of our visitors come from that area. Together with the Tourism Bureau we have to see how we are able to solve this and manage it.”

On the other side, the positive feeling that Harley has about the upcoming season still has the upper hand. “We have to see through this. We are able to respond to changes in the market, and that’s crucial in the industry. Reports say that there will probably be some delay, but nothing significant.”

According to Harley, the people who are now suffering from hurricane Sandy, and who are affected by days of power cuts and no water, will get back on their feet, they will want to go away and get some rest. “We in St. Maarten know that only too well We’re hopeful to see a positive season.”

Tempo Turns 7

Harley hopes that the events for Tempo Turns 7 that started this weekend will cause a higher occupancy rate in the hospitality sector. “Entertainment is a useful tool for any Caribbean island as well for the global market. When an event like Tempo Turns 7 comes to St. Maarten, the best thing to do is to see how our membership can benefit from it, and we hope to see that.” True to the fact that there is still no clarity of the status of the island’s occupancy the SHTA will have to see how things will go. “Maybe the best idea is to organize such an event in low season to give it a little boost instead of during the start of an already busy high season.”

The Cristal Pineapple Awards

The 7th edition of the Crystal Pineapple Awards (CPA) will take place this upcoming Friday. The awards recognize people working in hospitality who are nominated by their employees. People are able to vote online for their favorite nominee. “Showcasing employees in front of hundreds of people, let alone seeing them win an award, is absolutely spectacular,” Harley says. “This year’s CPA is phenomenal, people still are asking for tickets and tables but we’re completely sold out.”

The votes are coming in huge numbers; we’ve never seen it as big as it is now,” Harley says. “It’s an unbeatable honor to be able to work on an event that has such a big impact on the community. Some people who were nominated didn’t even know about the award ceremony and where extremely happy, shocked and excited,  to hear this big news. This makes me want to win one too,” a laughing Harley says. “In the last few years the categories had a maximum of four nominees; this year the numbers were sometimes even twice as high and that is a good sign. This makes us consider going to a bigger venue next year; we are almost on 400 people and we can’t accommodate any more.”

“I would like to thank Maho for working with us and the excellent staff who will make this event a big success. Already it has been quite a thrill for me.”

“It’s really nice to see these talented people at the SHTA and I’m thankful to work with them,” he says about his experience with his new colleagues. “Still the journalist will always be there. It is a challenge to put views and comments of 12 people together, but I am honored and grateful for the opportunity and my intent is to make the best of it.”

Today at 12 noon the voting for the Crystal Pineapple Awards closes. For information go to or go to the SHTA’s Facebook page.

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