SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation & Telecommunication, the honourable Arthur Lambriex, returned from a very successful five-day conference during which he got an insight into some critical issues St. Maarten can address for the enhancement of its tourism product.
Minister Lambriex joined public and private sector delegates from St. Maarten and around the globe at the recently held Florida Caribbean Cruise Association FCCA PAMAC Cruise Virgin Voyages Experience, January 25-29.
During his trip, Minister Lambriex met with representatives of the Puerto Rico Tourism Authority regarding Flights SXM/SJU. Both destinations are "very excited to get connectivity back between our two wonderful countries." The Minister said the return of the connection between St. Maarten and Puerto Rico would benefit St. Maarten and noted, "An equal and united approach will be an easier way to bring this to possible airlines that can provide such airlift."
Minister Lambriex attended an introduction and team-building session with the FCCA team, their strategic partners, and tourism industry counterparts from neighbouring Caribbean islands such as Jamaica, Curacao, Martinique, St Kitts & Nevis and Aruba.
"It went very well, and they were all very receptive and elated to finally have a tourism minister they could reach out to. It was also important to them that I made it to the conference on board," said Minister Lambriex.
He St. Maarten's stance and ideas, as well as concerns, were very well understood, and we agreed that collectively we would work to increase cruise calls to our Port and have ships staying longer in Port, with extra emphasis on our off-season months so that we can have some continuity throughout the year.
Minister Lambriex also met with Virgin Atlantic Voyages to discuss bringing the Virgin brand to St. Maarten. Another important highlight of Minister Lambriex's trip was a meeting with Royal Caribbean, Carnival Group of Companies, and Disney, during which they discussed future business developments for our island.
According to Minister Lambriex, one critical feedback from the Cruise Companies was challenges experienced concerning fuel consumption and conversion power.
He said, "This led to discussions about shore side plug-in possibilities, which would allow fuel savings. It would be a greener day in Port, making it even more attractive."
Minister Lambriex also said Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) had been a path many lines are considering as a cleaner alternative. In this regard, St. Maarten can possibly find ways to invest in a refuelling station for LNG and have the LNG system tied into the local grid.
"This could then produce sufficient alternative power to allow ship plug-ins at more competitive market rates. In return, any additional energy produced could reduce the usage of current generators at NV GEBE that consume a lot of fuel at a not-so-competitive rate."
Minister Lambriex considered his trip an overall success and said the visits to Key West and Bimini highlighted many ideas and provided vital information, which will be helpful to St. Maarten as we improve our tourism product. "This is not just helpful for cruise tourism but also facilities and diversification of possible future stores, attractions, and services," said Minister Lambriex.
He said he looks forward to a follow-up zoom meeting with Royal Caribbean Cruise line concerning New Market Place in Philipsburg and continuing discussions on the proposed Water Park and Boutique Hotel, which are near final decisions. The Minister said he intends to see these projects through to fruition, as they are all great initiatives for all parties involved.
Source: Soualiga Newsday https://www.soualiganewsday.com