The Chamber of Commerce of St. Eustatius and Saba wants to actively assist in setting up a direct airline service between Colombia and St. Eustatius, with onward service to Saba, and to get a shipping company interested in transporting goods from the South American country and the Windward Islands.
St. Eustatius and Saba Chamber of Commerce Board member Hemmie van Xanten and President Carlyle Tearr visited Colombia from November 25 to 30, 2018 as part of the trade mission of the Dutch Government. The trade mission, led by Hans de Boer of the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers VNO-NCW, included Prime Minister Mark Rutte, several ministers from the Netherlands, Aruba and Curaçao, and a large number of Dutch businesses.
With the assistance the Chambers of Commerce of Medellin, Bogotá and Aburra, which expressed interest in working together with the Chamber of Commerce of St. Eustatius and Saba, Van Xanten and Tearr looked into a number of options to export products from Colombia to Saba and St. Eustatius.
Van Xanten and Tearr established contact with Sarpa, an air charter and air ambulance operator from Colombia. The Caribbean Netherlands Health Insurance Office ZVK uses this airline to transport patients between Bonaire and Colombia. The benefits of having Sarpa fly to St. Eustatius are multiple.
Saba and Statia patients no longer need to travel via St. Maarten and Bonaire to Colombia for medical treatment. A direct flight between Colombia and St. Eustatius will limit travel time to three hours. The Chamber of Commerce is hoping that ZVK would be willing to join this venture, since it will also cut the cost of medical referrals.
Not only patients would benefit from a direct flight between St. Eustatius and Colombia, but the flight can transport fresh produce from Colombia to St. Eustatius and Saba. The Serpa flights will also contribute to bringing in tourists from Colombia. Sarpa has 17 and 23 seat aircraft that can land on St. Eustatius.
While in Colombia, Van Xanten and Tearr discussed the possibilities of increasing tourism with Aviatur, Colombia’s largest tour and hotel operator. The Chamber of Commerce delegation met with several companies that specialize in exporting fruits, vegetables and meats.
The Chamber of Commerce of St. Eustatius and Saba is also exploring possibilities to have a shipping company from Curaçao sail from Colombia to Saba and St. Eustatius with fresh produce, dry goods, construction materials and household goods. The cargo vessel can ship four containers. Going back to Colombia, the ship can take with recyclable materials, including scrap metal, car wrecks, tires, paper, plastic from Saba and St. Eustatius.