Dutch St. Maarten, French St. Martin sign “Smart” protocol

POSTED: 04/15/11 12:20 PM

St. Maarten – A protocol for a joint venture agreement was signed between the representatives of the French and the Dutch Tourism officials at the Westin Dawn Beach Hotel and Spa on Thursday for the 10th Annual St. Maarten/St. Martin Annual Regional Tradeshow (Smart) which will be held at the Westin Resort from May 25 to May 27.

President of the St. Maarten Hotel and Trade Association Emile Lee has pitched Smart as an important event for St. Maarten/ St. Martin which also allows for the sub-region to be promoted.

“One of the important aspects of Smart is that it is one of the more structured events which is organized by the two tourist offices and the two hotel associations which is seen as a stepping stone for further cooperation between the four critical stake holders. Since the tourist that visits the island sees this as one destination it is important to continue to work together,” Lee said

Head of the of the Hotel Association of French St. Martin Maurice Perrinmarechal said that it is necessary to have the cooperation with the neighboring islands. He also stressed that cooperating on Smart has always helped the island overcome their challenges.

“Smart has always survived all difficulties” he is hoping for the continued cooperation to continue to make the event a success,” he said.

“Smart is an opportunity and a vehicle for hoteliers to come together and meet our partners in tourism, especially those who sell St. Maarten/St. Martin,” Director of the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau Regina Labega said.

She also stressed that Smart will be important because the island was not represented at this year’s Caribbean Hotel Association Conference.

“The Ministry of Tourism is committed to Smart and as a result has been with it for the past 10 years and since this is the 10th anniversary I see this as a “historic event.” I call on all stakeholders to “do the smart thing” and make this 10th anniversary the best event ever,” Labega said.

Director General of the French Tourist Office Silviane John said that she was happy for the opportunity to do the joint promotion with the Dutch side and that the SMART event had finally come through and survived for 10 years. She also announced that the French side is working with their representatives in Europe, the United States and the Caribbean to have as many tour operators as possible here for the event.

One of the new additions to Smart this year is that COPA airlines that is now flying now between South America and St. Maarten. Tour operators will be able to see the hotels on the island and the sub-region and also experience the destination as a tourist.

“This opens the whole of South America to the island. We are not talking about a few markets but the entire South American market where visitors have never had the opportunity to visit this destination,” Labega said.


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