The Caribbean Island Is Working Its Way Back
St. Martin is known for its half-French, half-Dutch culture, its balmy climate, and its picturesque beaches (with famous views of the planes approaching and leaving the Caribbean island). It’s also known for its location in a fierce hurricane zone, and was devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017.
The island derives 85% of its GDP from tourism, meaning that anything that discourages tourism is felt around St. Martin. Despite the damage from the hurricanes, St. Martin is working hard to rebuild its reputation as "La Friendly Island," a mecca for visitors to the lower Antilles. The government has alotted 10 million euros to rebuild infrastructure in conjunction with a 10 year plan called "Project Phoenix" which promises to expand Espérance International airport and develop Marigot. Valérie Damaseau, 1st Vice President of the Territorial Council of French Saint-Martin, and President of the Tourism Office, says it is "a crucial step because it will allow us to redesign our destination and give Saint-Martin a whole new look and feel, while preserving what has made it so successful, its authenticity and many natural attractions."
On the ground, what you'll see now is an island still rebuilding, but determined to not only match its former glory, but exceed it, says the New York Times.
That's not to say St. Martin isn't worth visiting today; far from it. Visitors to the islands may notice that hotels and restaurants are operating at less than capacity, but the warmth and wonder of the island supersedes the loss of some bells and whistles. The stunning natural resources—jewels of St. Martin—are untouched. The sea life is still incredible, the rum still incomparable, the people still welcoming, the sea still luminescent blue-green. St. Martin's rebirth as a tourist hub is certain—as is the fact that their beaches won't be uncrowded much longer.
For more information: