The amount of business locations that are turning up either for rent or for lease in the heart of the shopping capital Philipsburg are increasing the more in the heart of the 2021 season. This is due to the toll the pandemic is having on travelers to the country. Since the coronavirus outbreak in March 2020, there has been no tourist ships coming to the Island and the AirPort was closed for some time to international traffic. The Airport has since opened with limited traffic, but we can’t be sure when this will change.
When it comes to how our economy is affected by the closure of more than half of the business means no jobs for those working in the tourism Industry and no pay as you earn Taxes for government. Further to the damage are the amount of immigrant workers that were working at most of these business establishments who may have to either return to their country of origin or add to the unemployment figures that were already high on the Island.
There are businesses that are open, most of which have their permanent staff working at least four (4) hours a day or some 20 hour per week as a signed agreement with the employees and their Employer which was permitted by the government and SZV to qualify for the payroll support from Government. The payroll support forms part of the Government Stimulus Support Resilience Plan, (SSRP) designed to provide financial assistance to businesses in the private sector to keep the employees working. But most of the businesses have contract workers who have been released while in some cases continue collecting government stimulus payroll support.
By the time the payroll support ends, it doesn’t look possible there will be a return to normal tourism business anytime soon, and likewise workers affected by the drop in business may have to continue working less than 40 hours per week until business picks up. And for the business that are closed, one would question how many will once again swing their doors open and begin hiring while the Tourism business may by then be on the rebound. Until when that happens these signs will be plentiful.