PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Redeveloping cooperative tourism and marketing activities between the French and Dutch Tourism Bureaus for greater collaboration on destination marketing under the theme ‘One Island Cooperation,’ was the main priority identified by Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunications TEATT Stuart Johnson and First Vice President of the Collectivite de Saint Martin Valerie Damaseau when they met on Wednesday, July 11.
Damaseau hosted Johnson and his delegation at her office on Sint Martin for an introductory meeting during which the Memorandum of Understanding MOU signed by Johnson’s predecessor which laid the groundwork for the rebirth of joint destination marketing between the two sides of the island.
Johnson told Vice President Damaseau, “The MOU was an excellent start, and I believe we can build on it together. We will work with you “to put some more meat to it” and define the context of our collaboration, utilizing the areas where we are strong, and combining to strengthen our areas of weakness.” Damaseau said, “The uniqueness of both sides of the island is what makes us strong, and I trust that this level of cooperation will flourish and see it benefits as we move forward together.”
The approach to strengthening the cooperation between the two sides of the island forms part of the Governing Program for the Sint Maarten United Christion Democratic Coalition entitled ‘Building a Sustainable Sint Maarten.’ Damaseau and Johnson have planned a joint island tour to see what the visitors to the island sees. During the trip the group will travel off the beaten path as well and will visit damaged hotels, the airport, and other areas and get a first-hand look at the progress being made to redevelop the tourism product since St. Maarten was devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
During the meeting, Vice President Damaseau expressed her enthusiasm and passion for the joint venture and said the plans being laid out “will make this destination great again.” She said, “Continuing on the mission that I started with past minister of TEATT Minister De Weever, I am happy and overwhelmed that new Minister shares the same vision.” She spoke of the importance of governments on both sides of the island realizing the economic benefits of uniting on projects that will benefit the people and country and said: “government and its partners, in the private sector and other stakeholders should recognize that the future success of the destination depends on us all.”
Second Vice President of the Collectivite de Sint Martin Steven Patrick who also attended the meeting said uniting the two sides was a strategically sound decision as it gave the entire island a more significant advantage when presenting itself to the outer world. He said, “Where it pertains positioning itself as a premier tourist destination the real strength of the island is the unity of both French and Dutch Side.” He said when airlines look at the destination we will be more attractive to them with our collective room count versus solely promoting our own room inventory.
Damaseau hosted Minister Johnson and members of the cabinet of the Ministry of Tourism Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication and discussed a host of collaborative efforts for execution shortly, including sharing costs and jointly seeking funding for destination marketing under the ‘One Island Cooperation’ umbrella.