St. Martin First Vice President Valerie Damaseau presents a gift to Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Stuart Johnson. Also in photo: St. Martin Second Vice President Steven Patrick, St. Maarten Tourist Bureau Head May-Ling Chun, and Johnson Senior Policy Advisor Regina Labega.
MARIGOT–Dutch side Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Stuart Johnson and the French side’s First Vice President Valerie Damaseau plan to tour the island in the near future to see the destination from the point of view of visitors and ascertain the progress with redevelopment post-Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
According to a press statement from Johnson’s Cabinet, he and Damaseau plan “to go off the beaten path,” visit damaged hotels, the airport, and other areas. This ties into effort to redevelop cooperative tourism and marketing activities as identified as the main priorities by Johnson and Damaseau in the meeting held in Marigot.
The two officials also discussed a number of collaborative efforts that will lead to sharing costs and jointly seeking funding for marketing under the “One Island Cooperation.” The cooperation stems from a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on joint destination marketing signed between the Dutch and French sides under the tenure of Johnson’s predecessor current Justice Minister Cornelius de Weever.
Johnson pledged to work with his French-side counterpart “to define the context of our collaboration,” utilizing areas of strength and combine forces in areas of weakness.
Damaseau said, “The uniqueness of both sides of the island is what makes us strong, and I trust that this level of cooperation will flourish and see it benefits as we move forward together.” She emphasized the importance of both governments realizing the economic benefits of uniting on projects to benefit the people and island.
St. Martin Second Vice President Steven Patrick who was also in the meeting said, “The real strength of the island is the unity of French and Dutch sides.” The destination, he added, will be more attractive to airlines with a “collective room count versus solely promoting our own room inventory.”