Tourism representatives from St. Maarten/St. Martin updated the media on hurricane recovery progress at the CHTA Marketplace in San Juan.

Princess Juliana Airport on St. Maarten opened a new air-conditioned departure lounge to accommodate passengers in a larger facility until the interior of the main terminal has been reconstructed and reopens later this year or early next year.

Until now, departing passengers have had to wait in a large tent after checking in for their flights.

The new temporary facility accommodates 315 seats, 11 concessions, 17 airline check-in booths, restrooms and security screening.

Next on the airport's agenda will be a new temporary arrival pavilion to free up the general aviation building that has been used for arrivals.

The airport's new roof will be designed to sustain winds over 185 mph and wind gusts to 240 mph.

Close to 95% of the island has electricity, and everyone has water and telecommunications, according to V. H. Cornelius de Weever, interim minister of tourism and justice.

General elections will be held in St. Maarten on Feb. 26 to select 23 members of Parliament.

"Oyster Bay Beach Resort will reopen with a limited number of rooms in April; Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Sonesta Ocean Point hope to reopen late this year or the first quarter of 2019, and Great Bay Beach Resort, formerly a Sonesta and now a Sunwing property, will reopen in 2019," de Weever said.

St. Maarten, which will host its annual sailing regatta March 1-4, currently has 1,200 guest rooms available out of its pre-hurricane inventory of 4,000 rooms.

Valerie Damaseau, first vice president of French St. Martin, said that the goal is to have 2,000 guest rooms by 2020.

"We had 1,200 rooms before the hurricanes, we have 400 now and will have many more by the end of the year," she said.

Grand Case Beach Resort is slated to reopen on Oct. 1; many restaurants have reopened as have attractions such as Loterie Farm, Orient Beach and Pinel Island.

A shortened Carnival event drew thousands to Marigot for food and festivities before concluding on Fat Tuesday Feb. 13.

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