PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten -- St. Maarten plans to invest $65 million
to upgrade its tourism infrastructure within the next two years,
according to Theo Heyliger, commissioner of tourism.
The move will "significantly enhance our tourism product,"
Enhancements include building the new Great Bay Port; opening
the Waterside Complex; upgrading the road, taxi and bus systems;
building a boardwalk, and cleaning up the shopping areas along
Front Street here.
The new pier at Great Bay Port, just outside Philipsburg, will
be able to accommodate up to four cruise ships at a time, including
Heyliger said he hopes to welcome the first cruise ship at the
facility by July 15.
Most cruise ships calling in St. Maarten now anchor in Great
Bay, and passengers are tendered to shore.
The second phase of the pier project is a welcome terminal,
scheduled for completion in August.
The two-story facility will include conference, banquet and
office space; information booths; ATM machines; a post office;
restaurants, and stores.
The Waterside Complex, a $40 million shopping and entertainment
facility on the new pier, is expected to open in December 2001.
The complex will have duty-free shops, a Caribbean open-air
market, restaurants, bars and live music venues.
Also at the pier will be a tour bus and taxi terminal, a food
court, a water park, a pedestrian promenade and a small pier for
tender boats and water taxis.
More than $4.1 million is earmarked for the upgrade of taxi and
bus facilities at the harbor and another $1.1 million for the new
Juancho Yrausquin Boulevard to handle traffic in the Philipsburg
The new $9 million boardwalk will stretch from Bobby's Marina on
the east end of Great Bay Beach to the west end of Front
Construction is scheduled to begin in June, with completion set
The plan calls for entertainment and street fairs along Front
Street, the main shopping promenade in town.
Overall, upgrades to the tourism infrastructure are expected to
create 500 jobs and a significant source of revenue for the