PHILIPSBURG–For the first time in Carnival’s history, organised tours will take place for both cruise passengers and stay-over tourists to enjoy the Carnival Village.
There will be daytime tours for lunch in the village from 1:00 to 3:00pm as well as night-time tours for some of the local events, including Soca Rumble, Calypso Finals and the One Love Reggae Concert.
Some of the tour companies involved are Nexus Tours, Sunwing, Xaro Tours and various taxi drivers. Gift bags and some support for entertainment of the guests have been provided by the Port of St. Maarten.
“This is an initiative we have envisioned as part of the long-term marketing plan of Carnival, and it is finally happening,” said St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) Marketing Director Rolando Brison.
“While we’ve wanted to do this for a long time, the priority was to ensure the product of Carnival was ready to welcome hundreds of tourists to the village every afternoon on organised tours. Now that we have refined the product and business model, and have the resources in place, we are ready to have organised tours into the Carnival Village with our tourists.”
While tourists have visited the Village on their own or on the advice of taxi drivers for many years, this is the first time organised tours will be making a stop at the Village and providing them with guided tours of Carnival. It is expected that anywhere between 25 and 400 tourists will be a part of the organised tours each day, depending on the number of cruise ships in port.
The daytime tours will begin with a welcome by an official SCDF member and a member of the SCDF Marketing Team. The visitors will be handed over to one of the “Village Tour Guides.” They will be given a brief history of Carnival and the Village, including the way the Village concept started and its various locations on the island over the years, until ultimately its permanent home was built in 2005.
The Port has come on board with providing more than 2,000 gift bags for the tourists as well as entertainment on some days. “Island Revellers” troupe will be allowing tourists to dress in headpieces and back-pieces for pictures, and International Liquors and Tobacco Trading (ILTT) will be offering duty-free liquor to the sponsors.
The tourists will then be split into groups and will visit various booths that are open for lunch. The booth-holders can tell their stories of being participants in Carnival cuisine and present them with some of the signature dishes and drink samples offered to the guests.
The last half-hour of their tour the tourists will be free to roam the village and have lunch or a drink. For the night tours, the guests will get to experience some of the key cultural events. These also will be in the form of guided tours, including dinner and a brief look backstage. Other promoters also may contact Nexus Tours to have their night events be a part of the line-up.
“Involving cruise visitors has always been an initiative we wanted to start. Many visitors have told us that they really didn’t know about Carnival, they just happen to be in port at the time. With that in mind we started thinking about what steps we can take to not only market to them, but involve them.
“The tours are just the first step. We have a much larger goal in mind that we will be working on moving forward. On behalf of the board of the SCDF, I extend our deepest gratitude to the tour operators and the Port of St. Maarten for working with us on this initiative which only benefits the destination and the Carnival product,” SCDF Director Mike Granger said.
Source: Daily Herald SCDF, tour companies, Harbour to bring tours to Carnival Village