The group of marine journalists pose with Métimer President Bülent Gülay at the cocktail party in La Terrasse, West Indies Mall, on Wednesday evening. (Robert Luckock photo).
MARIGOT–Thanks to an initiative of cruising charter company Moorings/Sunsail, a group of journalists from prominent French marine cruising publications are on island for a week of cruising to evaluate the recovery of the islands.
They were welcomed Wednesday evening at a cocktail party in La Terrasse, West Indies Mall, attended by Préfète Déléguée Sylvie Feucher, Vice-Presidents from the Territorial Council, St. Martin Tourism Office representatives, representatives from Marine Trades Association Métimer, French side hotel association AHSM and other tourism partners.
The group will be visiting Marigot, Grand Case, Tintamarre, Pinel Island, St. Barths and Anguilla, on two catamarans, a Sunsail 444 and a Sunsail 454.
The journalists are: Chloé Lottret (Boat magazine), Sébastien Minguet (Voiles et Voiliers), Pierre Yves Martens (Yachting Sud, Belgium), Olivier Bourbon (Voile magazine), and Vincent Gillioz (Skipper magazine). In addition, there were three reporters from the number-one nautical programme “Thalassa”; Véronique Veber, Rémi Frappas, and André Lafont, who made a film in conjunction with Métimer about the wrecks in the Lagoon.
Welcoming remarks were given by Préfète Feucher, Vice-President of St. Martin Tourism Office Alex Pierre, President of AHSM Patrice Seguin, and Métimer President Bülent Gülay.
Gülay explained that the main problem on the French side is with marine infrastructure.
“There’s a lack of available berths,” he told the gathering. “Hundreds of boats are looking to dock in our marinas and start their cruises immediately because there is a strong demand with clients having strong purchasing power.
“Several local businesses have disappeared in the boating industry,” he added. “But as soon as the infrastructure is rehabilitated, these small businesses will be revived, or new ones built.
“I hope that the message is being heard by our elected officials. We need a quick recovery of Marina Fort Louis and Marina Port la Royale, and a relaunch of Marina Anse Marcel so it can complete repairs and open their doors to charter companies.
“These companies are waiting to bring in thousands of boaters who will put our taxis, shops, restaurants, marinas, shipyards and craftsmen to work and very quickly give a serious boost to our economy.
“We are very pleased to welcome our guests and are confident they will have something positive to tell about our destination which is in a state of reconstruction. But this time it will be redone better and more solid than before to face increasingly powerful natural disasters and to better receive our visitors with standards of excellence in all areas.”
He noted despite the destruction of the Moorings/Sunsail base in Oyster Pond and loss of the entire fleet, the company did not desert St. Martin.
“That’s because the company believes in our destination and knows very well the excellent image we have among cruisers in North America and increasingly in Europe.”