Tourism officials tour island, review destination offerings | THE DAILY HERALD

From left: STB marketing officer Gianira Arrindell, French-side Tourist Office Director-General Aida Weinum, Minister Stuart Johnson, St. Martin First Vice-President and French-side Tourist Office President Valerie Damaseau, STB Interim Director May-Ling Chun, and Celine Euson-Gumbs of the French-side Tourist Office.

PHILIPSBURG/MARIGOT–Tourism officials took to the road a week ago to experience some of what the destination offers to visitors. The island tour is described as putting substance to the memorandum of understanding (MOU) on joint marketing and promotion signed a year ago by both sides of the island.

  Heading the delegation were Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Stuart Johnson and St. Martin Vice-President and St. Martin Tourist Office President Valerie Damaseau.

  Johnson said the tour stemmed from the idea of working directly with stakeholders to find ways to improve the destination’s product. The island has a wide variety of services and products, but many are “best-kept secrets,” said Johnson. “To get to the next level, we have to think of marketing the destination from the standpoint of inclusion: ensuring that everyone who has something to offer our visitors gets the exposure they need.”

  The tour stemmed from the further strengthening of the MOU. Damaseau called it “a significant step in the right direction. Marketing our destination collectively makes good financial sense, as we are able to pull together our resources and maximise our reach. … We are all in this together, because tourism is you, tourism is me, tourism is all of us.”

  The government officials together with St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and French-side Tourist Office representatives visited several hotels, bars and other attractions on the around-the-island tour. They intend to use information gathered to update marketing information.

  Simpson Bay Market was the start point for the tour. There, Johnson shared plans to erect 10 permanent structures and an improved bathroom facility. Construction, when started, will take about three months.

  Roxxy Beach restaurant, under construction next to the marketplace, is slated to be ready in early 2019.

  Tour guide Crazy Dave gave the group a rundown at Topper’s Rum Distillery in Cole Bay. He told the delegation about the latest shipment of Topper’s “Handmade in St. Maarten” rum that was sent  to the United States. The distillery is a featured stop on several island tours.

  A stop at the Cole Bay lookout point brought Johnson and Damaseau in contact with a family of return visitors who were happy to be back following the 2017 hurricanes. The Moores travelled from Philadelphia via Charlotte to St. Maarten on a booking that took half a year to acquire.

  Some plans are on the drawing board for the lookout point, but still have to be finalised with the Bell family. The plans aim to improve the existing structure for easier and safer access to the base of the flagpole.

  After visiting the 22-room L’Esperance Hotel and attending the inaugural call ceremony of cruise ship Celebrity Edge at Port St. Maarten, the group travelled to French St. Maarten from lunch at the new Kakao Beach restaurant on Orient Beach. Damaseau shared while there that a bid was open to contractors to build the new facilities on Orient Bay.

  The French government has also approved a lifeguard service to be stationed at the beach’s centre. The lifeguards will patrol the beach to ensure beach-goers’ safety.  

  Tijon Parfumerie, which offers perfume-making classes, Grand Case Beach Hotel, the new beachside restaurant Baranco and the eight-suite Le Temps de Cerises in Grand Case were stops on the tour.

  The French side will resume “Mardi De Grand Case” on February 5, 2019. The weekly event will offer entertainment, arts and crafts and cuisine. 

 The final stop on tour was a visit to Colombier Tradition, a guavaberry retail outlet in Marigot.

Source: The Daily Herald