St. Maarten’s tourist promotion in Benelux on the verge of collapse

POSTED: 01/7/14 2:09 AM

Interreps threatens with legal action over unpaid invoices

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – The promotion of St. Maarten as a tourist destination in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg threatens to become non-existent because the Ministry of Tourism and Economic Affairs has not paid the company that holds the contract for these activities, Interreps in Voorschoten, since July 1 of last year. The outstanding is according to unconfirmed sources around $900,000.

Today could not reach Interreps for a comment yesterday, due to the time difference, because the offices were already closed. We could not reach Minister Ted Richardson for a comment either because he was in a meeting.

Interreps director Lydia Haveman, also the director of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau in Voorschoten, writes in an email to Minister Ted Richardson – of which this newspaper obtained a copy – that, in spite of promises to pay the outstanding between December 15 and 31 of last year, she received no money at all. “Now we are informed that payment will come after January 15.”

Interreps has been advancing payments for St. Maarten since July 1 of last year, Haveman writes. Several reminders yielded no results and no payments. “By means of this email I want to let you know that I believe I have been patients enough with the island. The situation is getting so out of hand now with six months outstanding and with all these creditors of St. Maarten on my back that I can’t afford to wait any longer.”

Haveman complains about the non-payment and notes that in the meantime the contract with Interreps has been terminated. She sees no other option than to take legal action against the ministry. “Unless I am getting an official notice and proof from you today on my payments being done, I will turn this over to a lawyer, though I certainly do not prefer to go that route.”

Haveman furthermore asks the minister what the plans are for the promotion of St. Maarten in the Benelux. “We have received instructions that no money could be spent anymore for the island.”

Interreps is still prepared to continue, but only after St. Maarten pays the outstanding in full and on the condition that further action will be taken on the basis of pre-payment. “No supplier is willing to offer us credit anymore and I will not be able to do that any longer either.”

Haveman points out to Minister Richardson that Leads2travel, St. Maarten’s online management company, is also still waiting for its money. “”They are considering to pull the plug from the website and Facebook and other social media sites by January 15 should they not have received their payment by then.” The other option Leads2travel considers is to sell the email addresses and advertising space of www.vakantiestmaarten.nl.

The last action St. Maarten may expect from Interreps is that it will dump all the brochures and other St. Maarten promotional materials at the St. Maarten House in The Hague. The material is now sitting in a warehouse that is costing Interreps money as well.

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