PHILIPSBURG, St Maarten -- St Maarten welcomes travelers to the island, with over a quarter million cruise passengers visiting in January and air arrivals at 58,623 travelers for the month, as it continues its preventive measures against the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus that has been reported in the destination.
A number of public awareness campaigns for both residents and visitors have been undertaken, including posting flyers and banners and public service announcements as well as vector control fogging activities.
"Visitors can rest assured that St Maarten remains a safe destination for travelers," said Ted Richardson, minister of tourism and transportation.
"Officials on both sides of the island are working closely to manage the situation. While on island, visitors can help protect themselves by using mosquito repellent on hands, face, feet (parts of the body that are exposed), and wear long sleeve shirts and pants/skirts, especially during dawn and dusk -- the peak periods of mosquito activity," he added.
Government officials (on both the French and Dutch sides) have increased island-wide awareness campaigns, particularly in the heavily dense areas. Regular site inspections and awareness efforts will continue in the densely affected areas.
All partners on island, including hotels, ports of entry, restaurants, taxis, etc., are aware and involved in the public awareness campaigns, and are also taking preventative measures.
This matter has the full attention of the minister of health, minister of tourism and the minister of education, who are ensuring that these flyers and posters containing preventative information are distributed to the general public at large. Most recently, the minister of public works came on board to assist and support with the island wide clean-up campaign.
Upon arrival, passengers are reminded to use the preventive measures to stop mosquitoes from feeding. Princess Juliana International Airport officials are sharing the preventative tips on the airport's monitors, while The Wathey Cruise Facility is also distributing mosquito repellents to their partners at the port, namely at the information desk and to the taxi drivers, tour buses, stores, restaurants and water taxi operators as part of the preventive actions.
Chikungunya is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of chikungunya are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash.
"We want to let our valued guests know that we are taking all of the precautionary measures possible to ensure their safety while on island. We welcome you to our friendly shores," said Richardson.