Cosme-Trained Hotelier Takes Leading Role in Saba’s Recovery

Tortola, BVI - December 12, 2017 – COSME is a European Union funded programme with the mission to support SMEs in the Caribbean OCTs to grow competitive businesses.  When natural disasters strike, they can provide the opportunity for individuals to step forward in helping their nation recover.  Mr. Hemmie van Xanten is an entrepreneur specialising in the tourism sector who runs Selera Dunia Boutique Hotel in Saba.  Selera Dunia is Saba’s first boutique hotel and welcomes guests from all over the world, offering three suites that reflect the cultures and themes of international locations. Mr. van Xanten has been involved with many collaborative efforts supported by COSME where he has been able to share and gain knowledge on best hospitality and tourism efforts.  

After Hurricanes Irma and Maria swept through the Caribbean, damaging many homes, businesses, and infrastructure, Selera Dunia emerged from the storms with varied but manageable degrees of damage.  While the main hotel building thankfully did not suffer any losses, the garden required considerable clean-up, and the adjacent building that contained the Landazuri Fashion boutique suffered construction damage.  The damage to Mr. van Xanten’s business was manageable, but the real obstacle lay in the setback of Saba’s international airport, the source of the majority of Selera Dunia’s customers.

With no tourists expected during September and October following the aftermath of the hurricanes, Mr. van Xanten realized that he needed to take a direct course of action to help Saba’s tourism sector recover. Being part of the various COSME workshops over the past 20 months, Mr. van Xanten has been able to expand and enrich his views in many broader opportunities that relate to economic growth and SMEs.  Armed with this knowledge and the desire to empower his community, he began as a board member for Saba’s Chamber of Commerce.  

“Seeing Mr. van Xanten’s energised commitment to his community and sector is what COSME strives to ignite in all OCT participants through its workshops and study tours.  It is about working together and growing OCT economies through innovative and cooperative initiatives,” says Diana Hendrickson-Fleming, GOPA Key Expert/Team Leader.   

As a result of numerous calls, letters, and surveys, Saba has now been given a $2 million grant for tourist related businesses who have suffered financially. This grant will be for eight months (September 2017- May 2018). Additionally, Mr. van Xanten operates as a Chamber of Commerce director for the micro credits for SMEs and has personally helped over 8 businesses with their financial and business plans and their applications for the grant.

Mr. van Xanten also travelled to The Netherlands together with the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Carlyle Tear, to meet with parliamentarians and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate in order to discuss how to execute the financial grant, negotiating the loan conditions down from 8.75% interest pre-hurricanes to very attractive conditions which will be made public soon. The max loan will be US$25,000 per business.

“This grant will allow to keep the tourist sector open, people employed, and show the world that Saba is ready for business,” stated Hemmie van Xanten, owner of Selera Dunia Boutique Hotel and Board Director of the Saba Chamber of Commerce. 

In the meantime, Selera Dunia continues to welcome guests in Saba while supporting the reestablishment of Saba’s tourism sector.


COSME is a 54-month programme with the responsibility to disperse 15M Euros to projects benefiting participating Caribbean Territories. The funds were made available by the European Union (EU). The programme’s overall objective is to contribute to the sustainable and climate-resilient economic diversification and prosperity of Caribbean OCTs by improving the competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the participating territories.


Media Contact: 

Dwight TjinKon Kiem
Private Sector Development Expert/SME Expert 
Caribbean OCTs SME (COSME) Programme SME Regional Project Office 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


SME Regional Project Office
Willemstad, Curaçao