PHILIPSBURG – SXM Talk’s first yearly Organization/Person of the Year award goes to the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association (SHTA) and we will explain why we came to this decision below.
The SHTA has been around over 25 years and originally started as a hotel association but over the years emerged to become the Hotel and Trace Association which at many times was the voice of the private sector.
SHTA started the year with a “bang” presenting to Government a simple but comprehensive online public/private marketing initiative to promote the island via Expedia and TripAdvisor which are the two largest and most visited travel websites in the world.
The results were immediate and many businesses and Government’s coffers (increased tax revenues) experienced results of over 30% growth when compared to the previous year.
In addition to the online marketing effort, SHTA tapped in into their partner the Visit St. Maarten Magazine and also secured some printed insertions in the well-read USA Today newspaper during the summer in order to support the online campaign. SHTA took this initiative and filled the major void in the island’s destination marketing (or complete lack thereof in recent years). As tourism is the backbone of St. Maarten’s economy, these initiatives are vital to keep the tourism dollars coming into the island for the benefit of all.
Later during the year at the 11th annual Crystal Pineapple Awards, SHTA also announced that they are busy in creating a grassroots re-branding campaign for the island, which will include a new slogan, with the help of many local stakeholders. Again an initiative to fill the lack of a meaningful and structural marketing campaign to brand St. Maarten and make it unique among the many competitors in the region which are all marketing their islands heavily.
Furthermore, the annual job fair organised by SHTA brings employers together with those seeking jobs and results in many finding meaningful employment. SHTA hereby contributes to trying to bring down the unemployment number on the island.
Based on the above and the many other initiatives that SHTA executes on a yearly basis, an organization led by their 100% voluntary boards mind you, is the reason why SXM Talks decided to award the SHTA with our first Organization of the Year award.
To SHTA we say THANK YOU, THANK YOU and please continue to lead the way!