Damaseau, De Weever jointly promoting destination in USA | THE DAILY HERALD

MARIGOT–President of St. Martin Tourism Office Valérie Damaseau travelled to the United States from June 2 to 10 to promote the island of St. Martin with a joint delegation. It was the first major promotion in the United States (US) since Hurricane Irma. She first visited the city of Atlanta, Georgia where she participated in Caribbean American Heritage Month.
This year, the French Caribbean islands were in the spotlight. The President was invited to express her views on the situation of St. Martin nine months after Hurricane Irma and to present an update of the destination.

The President then travelled to New York for Caribbean Week organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the organisation for development and promotion of the Caribbean islands, to which St. Martin has been a member for several years. This meeting with tourism professionals and the New York press has become, over time, an essential event to attend.

Several working meetings were held between the directors of tourism offices on the one hand and between the elected representatives of the different territories on the other. These exchanges enabled the islands affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria to present a precise inventory of the situation. The islands of St. Maarten/St. Martin, Anguilla, Dominica and the Virgin Islands were able to discuss their situation in complete transparency.
Within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the authorities of St. Maarten/St. Martin last February, Damaseau and Minister of Tourism of

St. Maarten Cornelius de Weever requested a meeting with the CTO Secretary General, Hugh Riley, in order to discuss the place of the two territories within the CTO.
The question of the annual contribution amounts for the two territories was raised in view of the post-Irma situation. In fact, as the amount of membership relates to tourism statistics, the signatories of the MOU have therefore requested that it be revised due to the reduction in arrivals.

On Wednesday, June 6, the President of the Tourist Office was the guest of honour for the Caribbean Students Colloquium. Damaseau was invited by the CTO to speak to the tourism students to whom she addressed a message of hope and perseverance, giving her personal journey as an example.

On June 7, the St. Martin delegation participated in Media Market Place, an event the objective of which is to enable the Caribbean islands to meet specialised press and major American media to promote their destination. This year, the media came in large numbers and took a strong interest in St. Martin.

In order to convey the right message and to present the destination in view of forthcoming tourist seasons, the Tourism Office organised a press lunch jointly with the Tourist Bureau of St. Maarten for a comprehensive presentation of the situation of the island. The latest statistics and establishment openings (restaurants, hotels, guest rooms) were presented to journalists; the largest American media were present as well as several major Tour Operators, such as Jet Blue Vacations, Flight Center and Delta C Vacations.
Director of Princess Juliana International Airport Michel Hyman presented the latest air traffic figures and a summary of the temporary organisation of the terminal. Sharon Benett represented the Palm Court, Esmeralda, Plantation, Alamanda hotels, and April Hays represented the 5-star Belmond La Samanna.

Alongside Minister De Weever, the Tourism Office President delivered an honest speech to the audience, insisting the destination of St. Martin is functioning normally despite the reconstruction phase under way.

This sharing of the reality of the territory was an opportunity to cut short the erroneous information conveyed about the destination and to reassure the American press about the potential of St. Martin, which already has all the ingredients for a successful stay: beaches, a wide choice of restaurants, accommodations of varied standards, and land and sea activities.

In response to numerous questions from journalists, the President said Caribbean Week was a timely opportunity to take stock of the situation and inform Americans about air rotations, re-openings and accommodation options. Tour operators have also started to sell the destination.

“Caribbean Week is a must because it gives us real exposure and allows us to make commitments with our partners to rediscover the destination,” stated Minister de Weever. “At the same time, the exchanges with the elected representatives and directors of the various territories give us a precise idea of the tourism situation on the other islands.”
Damaseau emphasised it was essential for St. Maarten/St. Martin to speak with one voice while highlighting the singularity of the destination and the assets on both sides of the island.

“We are particularly proud to have made this cooperation on tourism a reality through the MOU and to have presented to the American press a common front with a shared objective: to make St. Martin/St. Maarten an even more beautiful destination,” she said.
To conclude the meeting, the St. Martin delegation presented to the press and tour operators a promotional video filmed 15 days ago.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/77513-damaseau-de-weever-jointly-promoting-destination-in-usa