Champagne toast following signing of the joint venture agreement for the 15th edition of SMART. From left: AHSM Executive Director Véronique Legris, St. Martin Tourism Office Interim Director Aïda Weinum, SHTA Executive Director Wyb Meijer, AHSM President Patrice Seguin, 1st Vice-President of the Collectivité Valérie Damaseau, Tourism Minister Stuart Johnson, SHTA Treasurer Keith Graham, and St. Maarten Tourism Bureau Director May Ling Chun. (Photo Robert Luckock)
COLE BAY–A joint venture agreement for the upcoming fifteenth annual Saint Martin Sint Maarten Annual Regional Tradeshow (SMART) was signed Thursday at the border monument in Cole Bay by representatives of L’Association des Hoteliers de Saint Martin (AHSM) and St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) with Minister of Tourism Stuart Johnson and First Vice-President of the Collectivité Valérie Damaseau who is also President of St. Maarten Tourism Office.
Also present was Marketing & Media Manager for partner Winair Helena de Bekker and St. Maarten Tourism Bureau Director May Ling Chun.
“Since taking office on the French side our mandate has always been to extend our hands to our brothers and sisters on the Dutch side to advance and work together,” said Damaseau in her remarks. “I want to congratulate the two respective hotel associations and business partners for this continuing initiative.
“It’s symbolic that we are here at the border monument with no physical border. St. Martin Sint Maarten is not divided. Let’s stop thinking of reconstructing or selling the island the Dutch way or the French way, but do it the St. Martin way. We do have to believe in St. Martin in order to promote it.”
Added Minister Johnson: “This again is testimony to the resilience, strength and confidence of the two sides becoming one. That is what the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was about when signed by the two tourism offices and governments. SMART also gives our national carrier Winair the opportunity through its discounts to bring attendees here which is good for the economy, good for business and good for St. Maarten.
“Congratulations to the organisers and stakeholders who have made this event possible. This again shows that our government is committed to the revitalization of our economy. We are pleased to support this initiative. I wish you much success.”
SMART will be hosted by Sonesta Beach Resort Casino and Spa from May 21 to 23. The 2019 edition will consist of three days of inspiring innovative masterclasses, workshops, activities, festivities and business-to-business appointments.
Expected are numerous tour operators, travel agents, travel writers and event planners from the US, Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean to attend this important event.
In previous years, SMART featured suppliers from Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Curaçao, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Barthelemy, St. Kitts & Nevis and St. Maarten-St. Martin.