the Governor's Speeches

Back to Speeches Indexapr 11, 2018

Investing in developing heritage tourism, Opportunity and Responsibility Remarks delivered by H.E. drs. Eugene B. Holiday Governor of Sint Maarten on the occasion of the Grand Opening of the Rockland Estate Sint Maarten

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Afternoon

Today’s Grand opening of the Rockland Estate by Rainforest Adventure represents a new chapter in the evolution of this area from former plantation to eco-park for visitors and residents. An evolution that interconnects Sint Maarten’s former plantation economy with Sint Maarten’s current tourism economy. An evolution which because of this unique site has the potential to interconnect our culture, our environment, our heritage and our tourism. I therefore welcome the invitation to share a few words with you on the significance of this event, as an opportunity and responsibility to invest in the further development of heritage tourism on Sint Maarten.

But first I would like to acknowledge and extend a warm welcome to our guests and partners from overseas who have contributed to the realization of this project: The founder of Rainforest Adventure, Mr. Harald von der Goltz, The President of Rainforest Adventure, Mr. Josef Preschel and the VP of Carnival, Mr. David Candib. Welcome to Sint Maarten.
Having personally roamed amidst the area’s natural beauty, looking at the amazing and enduring slave walls, having visited the old plantation house and old sugarcane boiler house, and having met Mr. Emilio Wilson, I stand here this afternoon inspired by the historical and cultural value of this National Treasure. Standing here looking out at the majestic view I feel a great sense of history and heritage. History and heritage because this area below us holds within its bounds monuments that tell the story of plantation life on Sint Maarten. History and heritage, because it is the site of the 1740s plantation home of Commander John Philips, after whom our capital city Philipsburg is named. History and heritage because this area holds within it, the commitment, legacy and dream of its former owner Mr. Emilio Wilson to preserve this area as a historical, cultural and ecological monument for current and future generations.  Personal History and Heritage, because of my connection to this area through my father’s Cul-De-Sac family dating back to the 1700s. At the same time this area brings back fond childhood memories, because it is where I, like many of my contemporaries, attended Miss Glorine’s Sunday school under the tamarind tree. It is for these reasons and more that I, like many Sint Maarteners, consider this area a National Heritage Site and Treasure. 

Today’s grand opening offers the opportunity for others to share in this Sint Maarten treasure. This grand opening must therefore be dedicated to ensuring that the people, residents and visitors, coming to this location will truly experience the historical, cultural, and ecological heritage of this Sint Maarten treasure. I therefore welcome and encourage Rainforest Adventure’s plans to limit any impact on both the flora and fauna of this national monument. In that regard, I particularly applaud your plans to administer reforestation, agricultural, historical, educational and maintenance programs for the area. For such programs are:
a. Critical to the preservation of the priceless ecosystem which we see below in its full glory;
b. Essential to the restoration and maintenance of the original architecture of the buildings;
c. Vital to the preservation of the authenticity of the irreplaceable rock walls; and
d. Indispensable to complete and enrich residents and visitors experience through education.

Today’s Grand Opening of Rockland Estate placed within the context of Sint Maarten’s need for sustainable economic development must therefore not just be viewed as the building of a new tourism attraction but broader as an investment to develop heritage tourism. And in doing so further enhance the brand of our destination. This means that it is government’s, Rainforest Adventure’s and the people’s collective responsibility to always protect the heritage in this project and in our tourism; that in the interest of Sint Maarten’s sustainable economic development. 

Today thanks to the collaboration of rainforest adventure, government, and the initiative of Mr. Heyliger we stand at the beginning of a promising investment in heritage tourism on our island. We stand at a moment of opportunity and responsibility. It is for this reason and for the economic opportunities in terms of business activities and employment that I hope that this project will grow into a model for heritage tourism.

I would therefore like to congratulate the President of Rainforest Adventure Mr. Josef Preschel with the realization of this development. And as you officially embark on this heritage tourism initiative on Sint Maarten, I wish you, the management the personnel, other operators much success in its operations. And I likewise wish the residents and tourists a most educational, breathtaking and enjoyable experience as they visit and glide over this heritage site.

Thank you,
God bless you,