Tony Harris explores celebrity-marketing for St. MaartenPOSTED: 02/9/16 7:49 PM
From left: Roddy Heyliger, Bernard Hunt, Tony Harris and Arthur Lugisse. Photo contributed
St. Maarten News: Under the umbrella of the Tallahassee-St. Maarten Foundation and in conjunction with photographer Hassan Kareem, Emmy award winning journalist and former CNN and Al Jazeera television broadcaster Tony Harris, arrived on the island over the weekend to explore marketing the destination to celebrities.
Tony Harris worked with CNN for six-years out of their headquarters in Atlanta, where he hosted CNN Newsroom for three years. Harris also served as New York-based correspondent for Entertainment Tonight and as a prime time correspondent and host for the Fox Broadcasting news magazine Front Page.
Through his marketing and PR Company Merge Media Harris brings more than 30 years of storytelling and relationships to the tourism industry. On his many media assignments throughout the Caribbean, he identifies the unique, underlying spirit of destinations. Through vivid imagery and storytelling, he has become a trusted advocate, elevating the region in the minds of travelers, compelling them to want to visit.
Harris believes that the Caribbean has become “a part of his life.” He visits the region frequently and is seasoned in the history, culture and local politics.
Arthur Lugisse, Director of the Tallahassee-St. Maarten Foundation along with Bernard Hunt and other members of the foundation, are excited about the concept of Celebrity-VIP Tourism and the marketing opportunities to promote this niche market.
Sint Maarten serves as a hub for the neighboring islands of Anguilla, St. Barths, Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Kitts & Nevis. A number of celebrities spend part of their holiday on the islands of St. Barths, Anguilla and Sint Maarten, but Lugisse is of the opinion that more can be done to garner a larger share of the market.
“Our destination has much to offer. We need to emphasize and sell the experience of holidaying on Sint Maarten and on the nearby islands. They all have something unique and authentic to offer. The tourism and hospitality sector is always changing, and a destination needs to be able to meet the needs of the customer. There are many destinations that sell sea, sun and sand, but we have to sell the authentic Sint Maarten experience which would incorporate the surrounding islands,” Lugisse said. “I foresee many opportunities ahead, but we need to reach out and grasp them. We need to be aware of the trends. Millennial travellers will become the core customer within the hospitality and travel industries over the next five to ten years according to the Caribbean Hotel & Travel Association. We have to make use of the latest digital technology, and under the umbrella of Merge Media and its Chief Executive Officer Tony Harris, we will be able to turn opportunities into reality.”
Harris will tour the destination during his one-week stay, and he will also visit Anguilla. Tomorrow he meets with Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Ingrid Arrindell and on Sunday he dines with Prime Minister William Marlin.