PUERTO RICO–Destination St. Maarten is being represented at the Caribbean’s largest and most important marketing event, the annual Caribbean Travel Marketplace, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this week.
Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (TEATT) Cornelius de Weever said on Wednesday that the Caribbean Travel Marketplace affords tourism suppliers the opportunity to meet face-to-face with wholesalers from around the world selling Caribbean vacation travel.
The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is holding its Caribbean Travel Marketplace at the Puerto Rico Convention Centre in San Juan from January 30 to February 1.
De Weever briefed the regional/international travel media about the destination’s status. He started off his presentation by describing the destination as magical, sensational, captivating and amazing. De Weever told the media on Wednesday morning, “We are open for business!”
He went on to give a detailed update that the country is steadily recovering, rebuilding and showing viable and visible signs of progress. He added that the country is serene and safe, the road network is clean of any debris, bars and restaurants are open, beach access is free and clean, the country’s cruise sector is a step ahead with the main cruise lines having returned to the destination and it is not too late for those who would like to book a cruise.
He also pointed out the importance of the mega-yacht sector and said the vessels have also returned to the destination and marine service sector businesses are open to cater to the needs of the rich and famous.
Visitors can also experience watching planes land at Princess Juliana International Airport SXM down at Maho Beach; the destination is receiving daily flights out of Miami and New York, and there will be a phased reopening of the terminal building in the second half of 2018.
The Minister also provided an update about electricity, water, and telecommunications; a number of boutique hotels and guesthouses are open; several of the larger hotel properties are scheduled to be open throughout the latter half of 2018; the Caribbean’s number one shopping area, Philipsburg, is 95 per cent open; and one of the destination’s newest attractions is Rockland Estate Zipline which is open to visitors.
De Weever also updated the international media about the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, which is scheduled for the beginning of March, and the country’s main cultural event Carnival for which preparations are in full swing for several weeks of jamming, partying and parading during the month of April.
He also spoke about the resiliency of the people, their persistence, and being a beacon of hope during the recovery and rebuilding of the country, and said they are upbeat and serving visitors every day as they arrive to enjoy their St. Maarten holiday on “The Friendly Island.”
The CHTA Marketplace brings together hotel and destination representatives; online travel agents; tour operators; meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) planners; and members of the media.
Close to 500 supplier delegates from more than 200 companies across 30 countries have joined another 100-plus media representatives at this year’s event, according to CHTA. More than 200 delegates from close to 100 buyer companies, 19 of which are new to the conference, including four new MICE companies, have registered.
Besides the Minister, representatives of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau were also in attendance.