Tourism Minister Sams visits South America

POSTED: 10/6/15 9:44 PM


copa airline and samsFrom left: Minister Sams, Gustavo Esusy (Copa) and tourism advisor Bernard Hunt. Photo contributed

St. Maarten – Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Ernest Sams attended the ABAV and FIT trade shows in Brazil and Argentina with the assistance of Inter-American Network, which has been the country’s representative in South America for the past twenty years and has offices in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador.

The objective of the trip was to boost occupancy from South America for the destination.

ABAV represents formidable networks of travel agents. It has more than three thousand associated companies, that are in charge of eighty percent of the national market and has the main objective of congregating and representing the interests of the companies. The ABAV Expo is held in Brazil every year in September.

The FIT International Tourism Fair of Latin America is held annually at the La Rural in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is the most important sample of travel market in South America. Federation partners are especially invited to participate as exhibitors or distributors and receive preferential treatment to facilitate their work during the days of the event. This fair offers different tools to develop business through international meetings with a pre scheduled agenda, with two days dedicated to the consumers. Attendance to this event was estimated at forty thousand people. The Minister was able to sit with key players in the industry and conducted several interviews with radio stations, television stations and magazines.

“Our joint promotion with French St. Maarten and Anguilla demonstrated our close relationship with our sister islands and the fostering of a great relationships, which allow us to get more for our buck,” Minister Sams stated in a press release issues last night, adding that this was just the beginning and that further dialogue is scheduled.

The Minister is of the opinion that St Maarten has a great product, which is very much in demand. “However, we are lagging behind our competitors in terms of visibility due to the lack of funds.”

The Minister and his team met with Gustavo Esusy, the South American regional manager of Copa Airlines to hear his vision about destination St. Maarten. According to Esusy, St. Maarten is venturing into a new market – Colombia that needs our support.

On the final leg of his trip, Minister Sams paid a courtesy visit to Tambourine, the country’s PR firm in the United States. There he was updated on specific matters pertaining to St. Maarten and how the island is positioned statistically amongst its competitors. He was also enlightened on all the possibilities of moving forward in the digital age with a new online marketing strategy.

The Minister thanks his team, William Bell and Bernard Hunt, who is “a beacon for St. Maarten in the tourism industry.” He was amazed about the number of people he met in South America that knew Mr. Hunt and said that they felt comfortable working with the island because of him.

Minister Sams said that St. Maarten should continue the relationship with Anguilla and French St Maarten in terms of joint marketing. “We need to support our partners financially in the various markets.” He also wants to see the establishment of the St Maarten Tourism Authority board.


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