St. Maarten – Representatives of Port St. Maarten returned over the weekend after attending the Vakantiebeurs (Holiday Expo) from January 12 to 17 at the Convention Center in Utrecht.
This was the first time for the port at the expo, and it offered an insight into the trends and developments related to Dutch travelers. Port management was impressed with the expo’s magnitude and its potential impact on Sint Maarten.
Due to past and current global economic developments, the Dutch vacation market has been improving. In 2015, Dutch travelers spent approximately €18 billion on holidays. On average the Dutch take 2.7 vacations per year.
The Dutch Caribbean has become a growing vacation destination for the Dutch traveler. During the State of the Industry presentation, emphasis was placed on the safety and security of the Dutch traveler, and they were looking at geo-political tensions that exist in countries around the globe prior to booking a vacation – looking for a safe and secure destination.
Dutch travelers are interested in traveling further outside Europe and very much interested in cultural and eco tours. The port has stressed in the past the importance of the development of such tours in order to further expand the diversity of tours that the country has to offer. The traveling and cruise public is more diversified today and Sint Maarten has to cater to the changing environment in order to maintain a sustainable tourism product.
All major airlines and airports were at the expo in Utrecht. The Caribbean Dutch islands of Aruba and Curacao have had a presence at the expo for years while Sint Maarten has been absent and faces a challenge of creating brand awareness in the Netherlands. Port management has committed itself to attend future expos due to the importance of the Dutch travel market and the opportunities that exist for the country.
Port St. Maarten focuses on high-end cruise lines and a high-end home-porting operation. More than 180,000 visitors attended the Vakantiebeurs this year along with 1,191 organizations promoting their destinations, products and services to the Dutch traveler. The port encourages private sector tourism related businesses to get onboard and participate in the next expo in January 2017.
“Port St. Maarten management would like to thank Sint Maarten students who took part in the booth. They had the opportunity to meet with Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Ingrid Arrindell where they could share their knowledge and experience to sell the destination in the Netherlands.
“The feedback received during the entire week of the expo about the destination was very positive, and a large number of past visitors said that Sint Maarten has a lot more to offer than the other islands. A lot of the visitors showed interests in traveling to Sint Maarten for a vacation and taking a cruise from the island. The expo has shown that the interest is high, and we need to maintain a structural sustainable presence at the Vakantiebeurs and at other travel shows. Hence, the importance of having the Tourism Authority that can create this structural sustainable presence.”
The Vakantiebeurs caters to business to business and business to consumers. More Dutch travelers are becoming aware of cruises, and the St. Maarten cruise brand is the largest and most developed cruise port in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
In 2014, approximately 109,000 Dutch travelers took a cruise. Travelers from Belgium and Luxembourg also visited the Vakantiebeurs. These countries represented 77,000 cruise travelers in 2014. The Benelux countries have seen their number of cruise travelers grow by 11.5 per cent between 2010 and 2014.
Source: Today SXM St. Maarten Port committed to attending future Vakantiebeurs editions