St. Maarten and Jamaica agree on joint marketing’s necessity

POSTED: 07/24/11 1:25 PM

St. Maarten – Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication Franklin Meyers and the Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund C. Bartlett agree that the Caribbean region must market together in order to keep visitors coming. Their common position was expressed during a panel discussion titled “Caribbean Investment Focus – Where are the opportunities” on Friday at the 15th Annual National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD) at Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami, Florida.

“Joint marketing makes good business sense.  Right now the issue is how we get to the format. I believe the only way to make it work is through the Caribbean Tourism Organization CTO and I believe once we start to market the Caribbean as a product we will become a major player in the tourism industry. It is difficult though to get everyone to see the vision, but I believe eventually we’ll get there,” Meyers said.

Bartlett concurs and said, “Multi-destination marketing is the wave of the future and we must create a regional carrier that allows us to move people from a central hub into other parts of the region, because if we attract visitors from the Asian countries they will definitely be interested in packages where they spend some time in Jamaica, some time in Trinidad and some time in St. Maarten even.”

Bartlett’s call comes even as his country prepares to welcome its first direct flight from Russia later this year.

Open for business

Meyers used his speaking time to point out that while St. Maarten is open for business, it is being selective about the type of business it wants to attract.

“We have to be selective and mass tourism is not something we would go for in St. Maarten because of our size so we are currently busy trying to diversify our product. The recession has also forced us to either sink or swim by looking at new markets like Europe. One of our main challenges continues to be that our airport is not open 24 hours a day and every airline we attract basically wants to arrive in a time slot between 12:00 noon and 3:00 p.m. and this is problematic for small developing island like ours, especially in the busy season,” Meyers said.

He also told the attending hoteliers that government has opened talks with Virgin Atlantic to get access to the British market and that Air Berlin is to commence a service that will open up the German market.

Reassurances

Meyers also provided the hoteliers with reassurances that a change in government here would not affect their investments.

“I can’t recall there’s ever been a major investment that was affected by a change of government besides what happened in Cuba. Tourism is our business and one thing is sure and that is while we may have political differences, government and opposition understands that tourism is our bread and butter so the focus will remain on tourism, thereby ensuring that investments in that sector are safe,” the minister said.

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