French version of joint tourism MOU signed at Loterie Farm

MARIGOT–Elected tourism officials and stakeholders from both side of the island gathered at Loterie Farm on Friday for a joint press conference on tourism matters and to give updates on progress almost nine months after Hurricane Irma.

It could be seen as a reciprocal gesture for the French side and follow-up to the first joint tourism press conference and signing of the first memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Oyster Pond back in February.

Holding court were the Dutch side’s Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Cornelius de Weever, St. Maarten Tourist Bureau Interim Director May-Ling Chun, First Vice-President of the Collectivité and St. Martin Tourism Office President Valérie Damaseau, and St. Martin Tourism Office Interim Director Aida Weinum.

Short speeches were given by Loterie Farm caretaker William “BJ” Welch, De Weever, Damaseau, and Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) Chief Financial Officer Ravi Daryanani. Chun and Weinum respectively gave product updates based on latest data concerning hotels, airports, sea ports, et cetera (see related article).

“We must consciously integrate ourselves with the natural, cultural, social elements of our home, our island, if we are to achieve a viable and prosperous future in sustainability,” said Welch in his remarks.

“2017 brought one of the most challenging events in the island’s history to our shores. But we can overcome it by staying focused on our common goal through cooperation and dedication. A unified community can lead our island nation to a fortuitous future if we agree to be on the playing field as one team. Let’s turn our ideas into results and create a masterpiece.”

Daryanani said a stakeholder meeting initiated by PJIA in February this year had updated all parties on the airport’s operations, recovery, and strategic plans post-Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“It served as another avenue towards the goal of regaining our place as the regional leader in the Caribbean and across the Caribbean,” he said. “We have placed very high emphasis on our communication efforts and organised stakeholder meetings to facilitate the flow of information between the entities represented here. This initiative has taken the trajectory we anticipated.”

Said De Weever: “I agree with what BJ said about us all being on the right side and that is the foundation of the MOU. We all have to be on the right side to promote St. Maarten as one. A few months ago, we signed the MOU on the right side in Oyster Pond, so it is only fitting that we are signing the MOU on the other right side in Loterie Farm. We are two sides of the same coin and you can only spin the coin once. So, St. Maarten as a destination can share a few coins to maximise our marketing.”

Damaseau said it is the will of the Collectivité to collaborate with the Dutch side to promote the island as one.

“After the events of September 6, more than ever with our limited budgets we have decided to combine effort, knowledge and tools to be stronger,” she said. “We will be targeting the same markets for this season and others to come. We are going to have a joint e-newsletter, joint promotional film, joint media campaign, and joint press and trade show trips. These are what we are working on. To the stakeholders: let us continue on the same path with the same goals.”

De Weever and Damaseau then signed the MOU to close off the press conference.

Source: The Daily Herald