PHILIPSBURG–Organised tours of the Carnival Village for both cruise passengers and stay-over tourists started on Friday afternoon in efforts to create more buzz among visitors about Carnival activities. One important aspect is for booth-holders to get more traffic during the day during Carnival season.
There will be tours for lunch in the village from 1:00 to 3:00pm as well as night-time tours for some of the local events, which included Soca Rumble last night and the upcoming Calypso Finals and One Love Reggae Concert.
Some of the tour companies involved are Nexus Tours, Sunwing and Xaro Tours, as well as various taxi drivers. Gift bags and some support for entertainment of the guests have been provided by the Port of St. Maarten.
“This is just the beginning, this is something new for the visitor and at the same time they can experience St. Maarten’s culture right here in the village. The reigning queens are also tour guides and will welcome the visitors during the tours,” said St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) Marketing Director Rolando Brison.
“This is an initiative we have envisioned as part of the long-term marketing plan of Carnival. While we’ve wanted to do this for a long time, the priority was to ensure the product of Carnival was ready to welcome hundreds of tourists to the Village every afternoon on organised tours. Now that we have refined the product and business model and have the resources in place, we are ready to have organised tours in the Carnival Village with our tourists.”
They will be given a brief history of Carnival and the Village, including the way the Village concept started and its various locations on the island over the years, until ultimately its permanent home was built in 2005.
The Port has come on board with providing more than 2,000 gift bags for the tourists as well as entertainment on some days. “Island Revellers” troupe will allow tourists to dress in headpieces and back-pieces for pictures and International Liquors and Tobacco Trading (ILTT) will be offering duty-free liquor to the sponsors.
The tourists will be free to roam the village and have lunch or a drink during the last half-hour of their tour. For the night tours, the guests will experience some of the key cultural events. These also will be guided tours, including dinner and a brief look backstage. Other promoters also may contact Nexus Tours to have their night events be a part of the line-up.
SCDF Director Mike Granger said, “Involving cruise visitors has always been an initiative we wanted to start. Many visitors have told us that they really didn’t know about Carnival, they just happen to be in port at the time. With that in mind we started thinking about what steps we can take to not only market to them, but involve them. The tours are just the first step. We have a much larger goal in mind that we will be working on moving forward.”
Minister of Culture Silveria Jacobs extended to the entire community of St. Maarten as well as to visitors wishes for a happy and safe Carnival 2016.
“48 years of evolving Carnival celebrations have kept segments of our culture alive and it is the hope of the Minister that even more core cultural aspects receive the recognition they deserve during this, our largest cultural celebration of the year and years to come. All stakeholders in Carnival, from the SCDF, the promoters and sponsors, booth-holders, the participants, the spectators and law enforcement are key to the success of this three-week event,” she said.
Source: Daily Herald First set of cruise visitors take part in historic tour