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SIMPSON BAY — A major development literally on the road towards sustainable tourism in the Dutch Caribbean has been taken by offering hotel visitors and residents alike, the opportunity to rent electric cars. Known as EV’s, five of these vehicles have recently been introduced on St. Maarten by Commodore Suites at Market Garden Supermarket and port side, Marigot (French Side). Once fully charged, these four seater cars have a range of over 55 miles and work out at about half the cost normally paid by renters of gas propelled vehicles.
“This green initiative fits perfectly with our business aim of operating a boutique hotel on the basis of clean and renewable energy.” says Arnaldo Phelipa, hotel manager of Commodore Suites. “Many of our short-term customers, particularly crew members of visiting yachts, only want to rent a car for a matter of hours. At USD 10 per hour, renting an EV is a green, clean and mean bargain. The rental charge includes insurance cover so there are no extra fees and no fuel costs whatsoever. Our rental vehicles are
provided with batteries fully charged.”
Phelipa explains that the batteries of his Mitsubishi MiEV take only four hours to complete full charge. A distinctive EV charging station has been created on the carpark of Market Garden and alongside the port at Marigot. Charging normally takes place overnight. “A trip from say Simpson Bay to Philipsburg via Cay Hill needs only slight energy since the cars are self-charging on the downward slopes. Acceleration is not the same as a sporty cabriolet but their performance is not sluggish. Our EV’s run at a maximum speed of 60 miles an hour and offer a good ride since they are noiseless, quite roomy with smart interiors and plenty of window space to admire the island landscapes.”
Commodore Suites is the only hotel on the island to offer EV rentals. However, Phelipa expects other hotels on the island to follow the green trend. “In future, we shall power our rental cars from solar panels. We are already using solar panels to energize our illuminated signage and we have introduced energy efficient lighting in all of our 25 rooms.”
The hotel was opened in March 2016 and is located in Simpson Bay – above Market Garden on the corner of Welfare Road and Billy Folly Road leading to the Pelican Estate. It is proving popular as a short to medium stay and has fine views of the Simpson Bay Lagoon. All rooms are spacious, have a fitted kitchen and modern interiors. Room service menu is provided by the Double Dutch Cafe below in Market Garden.
Photo Caption:Mirna Hodge from Commodore Suites charges a rental EV at the new EV charging Station in front of Market Garden.
ST. MAARTEN/ST. MARTIN – Today SXM Festival, the Caribbean’s premiere electronic music festival, has revealed a discounted local Caraibes ticket for the event’s March 13-17 return to beautiful Saint Martin / Sint Maarten. Set within the iconic beaches, nightclubs and spectacular villas of the island, SXM Festival will once again bring global attendees and locals together for a week of world-class musical programming and cultural immersion.
SXM Festival has deep roots in the local community and is committed to the prosperity of St Martineers and the preservation of the island’s sensitive natural ecosystem. The festival also hopes to continue to bring a new generation of affluent world travelers to contribute to the local economy and help the island rise again after the effects of the 2017 hurricanes.
The 2019 event will once again bring its global family to The Friendly Island, where they will take up residence in the multitude of hotels and Villa lodgings, eat and drink at local businesses and enjoy the various festival venues staffed by locals. This influx of tourism will be matched by the event’s dedication to sustainability demonstrated through its banning of single use plastic at bars, beach and venue cleanups throughout the event, recycling initiatives and planting of thousands of trees to rehabilitate the island post-hurricane. SXM Festival will also continue its use of public transportation throughout the show to minimize pollution and road congestion.
The festival is created by and for its host location, offering its global community an experience enriched by Caribbean culture and artists. It is through such synergy that Caribbean musicians like Allan P, Ivan de la Ganesherie, Jason Myro and more share the stage with some of the world’s biggest electronic music icons – a true coming together of creative heritage. Similarly, Caribbean cuisine will be on full display at the festival’s various venues and local vendors are brought on to give attendees a complete look into the magic of one of the Caribbean’s most celebrated islands.
The event welcomes performances by global electronic music superstars like Ricardo Villalobos, flagbearer of Neapolitan techno Marco Carola, international techno sensation Nicole Moudaber, techno-titan John Acquaviva, psychedelic warrior Rebolledo, Get Physical label bosses M.A.N.D.Y, Visionquest’s Shaun Reeves, one of modern rave’s most celebrated acts Blond:ish, and Swiss icon Sonja Moonear alongside local Caribbean DJs and producers like Allan P, Ivan de la Ganesherie, Jason Myro and Saint Martin’s own Master Gee.
It remains the festival’s integration with Saint Martin/Sint Maarten’s range of beautiful venues that makes it a truly magical week for locals and visitors alike. The SXM journey flows between secluded beach parties at the Happy Bay mainstage, into intimate soirées at Loterie Farms and the Sandyline Villa, through to late night club triumphs at Refuge and Lotus, and of course sunrise celebrations beachfront at Karakter.
The SXM Festival experience is known for its sense of immersion and adventure, guiding attendees through a journey of artistic wonder and cultural connectivity. Each venue is adorned with organic production elements that appear as though to grow from the very island environment in which the event is hosted. Following the devastation of hurricane IRMA, the aesthetic curation has been reimagined to incorporate the debris created by the storm in order to minimize the importing of materials. By using recycled and reclaimed wood sourced from the area, the event continues its legacy of producing stages and art in harmony with the local habitat.
GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Regatta Village for the 39th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta has officially opened and is currently welcoming sailors and visitors all over the world.
The Grand Opening of the Regatta Village sets the precedent for the coming days filled with world class racing and high-energy parties.
The center of most of the events are taking place at the Regatta Village by Port de Plasissance.
The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau (STB) as a Premier Sponsor of the 39th Edition of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, will be present with its own booth, which serves as the information mecca for all incoming visitors and sailors, about the destination.
The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau based on data collected from the previous year, 28% of St. Maarten Heineken Regatta attendees were first time visitors to the island.
The introduction of the Regatta Village, during last year’s St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, presented the Tourism Bureau a new opportunity of having a centralized information booth dedicated to participants, and a good potential moment to convert first time visitors into repeat visitors.
The Tourism Department is constantly trying to innovate and create possibilities for us to measure the effectiveness of events we support, and creating a center for networking of stakeholders all for the betterment of our Tourism product, says Interim Director of Tourism May-Ling Chun
The St. Maarten Tourism Booth @ the Regatta Village will be open until March 3rd from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, with an information officer present to answer all destination questions and give visitors recommendations on places to dine, as well as things to do and see, while on island.
The booth will also serve as a good hub for local bloggers and media, whom are present to cover the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, to recharge and converse.
PHOTO CUTLINE: STB Interim Director of Tourism May-Ling Chun.
PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN (August 22, 2018) – Rainforest Adventures is pleased to announce that Rockland Estate St. Maarten’s The Flying Dutchman has been chosen as a finalist for the 2018 Seatrade Cruise Award for “Innovative Shorex of the Year.” A line up of independent judges will select the winners who will be announced at Seatrade Cruise Med 2018 on September 19, 2018, at Pátio da Galé, Lisbon, Portugal.
“Just like The Flying Dutchman, we have had quite a challenging and thrilling ‘ride’ to get to this gratifying moment,” says Scott Swietanski, General Manager of Rockland Estate. “This nomination would not have been possible without the support of our amazing staff, the wonderful people of St. Maarten and the government all coming together to rebuild after Hurricane Irma.”
The “Innovative Shorex of the Year” award recognizes a company or individual who has created, sourced or introduced an innovative shore excursion over the past 12 months. The Flying Dutchman, the steepest zipline in the world and the main attraction at Rockland Estate, has guaranteed thrill-seekers the ride of a lifetime as they’re dropped 1,050 feet in elevation from the top of Sentry Hill over a 2,800-foot span. Even guests who are afraid of heights credit the kind and knowledgeable staff for a fun, fantastic experience, both at the start of the ride and with “wobbly legs” at the end.
For more information and bookings email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit www.rainforestadventure.com/st-maarten or call toll-free from North America at +1.866.SKYTRAM (1.886.759.8726). Follow us @rainforestadventuresxm on Facebook and Instagram. Rainforest Adventures Rockland Estate St. Maarten has received the 2018 USA Today Travel 10Best Readers’ Choice Award as one of the Best Caribbean Attractions and is nominated for the 2018 Seatrade Cruise Award for Innovative Shorex of the Year.
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About Rainforest Adventures
Each year over 400,000 visitors experience Rainforest Adventures eco-parks located in Costa Rica, St. Lucia, Panama, Jamaica and St. Maarten. In addition to more than 22 years of experience, in construction and operations of eco-parks, Rainforest Adventures owns and conserves 2,700 acres of rainforest, home to more than 1,000 species of birds and 2,000 kinds of exotic plants. With over 400 employees, it also offers sustainability programs for visitors and local schoolchildren designed for the protection and conservation of the environment. For more information visit www.rainforestadventure.com.
About Seatrade Cruise Awards
Seatrade Cruise Awards forms part of the series of global Seatrade events, websites and publications that covers every aspect of the cruise and maritime industries, bringing together key people to encourage innovation and to produce powerful learning, networking and promotional platforms. Founded in 1970, the Seatrade brand is part of the events portfolio for the world’s second largest media and event organizer, UBM.
PHILIPSBURG, SINT MAARTEN – AUGUST 16, 2018 – Topper’s Rhum Distillery celebrates international rum day in a big way by hosting Everything St. Maarten / St. Martin JMB Website Supporters Summer 2018 Island Party. The well-attended cocktail party was filled with great music, food, fun and of course rhum!
This party was all about the rhum (French spelling of “rum”). Guests were greeted at the door with a welcome drink called “Rhum for Your Life” which was Topper’s entry into the post Irma Category 5 Cocktail Competition. Guest were invited to sample all of six Toppers’ commercial rhums as well as some of their 60 specialty rhums which are only available at the distillery such as Nelson’s Blood, Jalapeño Lime, Dutch Drop, Dark Chocolate, Bonfire, Passion Fruit and Soursop to name a few. Guests were given mini-tours of the distillery by tour manager “Crazy Dave” Herbert, and a discount certificate toward their full-scale distillery tour.
The food was catered by Topper’s Restaurant & Bar. Chef Kimar prepared ribs, chicken kebabs, fish skewers and crudités which guest had fun dipping in their choice of six delicious and unique rhum infused sauces some of which are available for sale at the distillery.
The Topper’s family also made a heartwarming toast to Renee Adams-Pereira who was a dear friend and worked for the distillery. Renee sadly lost her battle to cancer just the night before.
Topper’s Rhum, a truly locally made product, is a world-class premium rhum that is handmade, bottled, and packaged with precision right here in Cole Bay, St. Maarten. Topper’s Rhum uses only all natural premium ingredients and no preservatives. They are committed to producing the world’s best tasting rhum and flavored rhum spirits using the highest standards of quality. They are re-inventing rhum by continually innovating and delivering unique products to their customers worldwide. The company is very environmentally conscientious and well known for their signature reusable swing-top bottles. This official St. Maarten rhum is the only spirit distilled and exported from St. Maarten. They currently export to 6 countries and over 21 states in the USA and are the official rhum of the Dutch Army. By constantly expanding overseas, they are also notably promoting St. Maarten internationally. In addition, the products are sold online to almost anywhere in the world. Topper’s Rhum has been awarded 24 medals given by the most prominent rum tasting contests in the world and recently won USA Today’s 10Best Caribbean Rum Distillery award.
Topper’s Rhum Distillery is one of the top unique places to visit on St. Maarten, according to the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau. They are open from 9:00am – 4:00pm Monday – Friday and 9:00am – 12:00pm on Saturdays for free rhum tasting and shopping.
Tours are available for $20 at 10:00am and 4:00pm Monday – Saturday by calling +1-721-520-0008 or booking online at www.toppersrhumtours.com and Sundays are available by appointment only.
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About the Topper’s Rhum: Topper’s Rhum, established in St. Maarten in March 2008, is committed to producing the world’s best tasting rhum and flavored rhum spirits using the highest standards of quality. Topper’s Rhum Distillery was established in Cole Bay in November 2012. We strive to continually innovate and deliver cutting edge products to our customers worldwide and are experts in delivering unprecedented customer service. For more information, visit our website at www.toppersrhum.com or www.toppersrhumtours.com
PHILIPSBURG – Hurricane Irma put the Rainforest Adventure Park to the test in September of last year but the project withstood the monster storm perfectly even though the wind speeds at the top of Sentry Hill must have been out of this world.
Irma hit St. Maarten with sustained wind speeds of 185 miles (298 kilometers) per hour with higher gusts reaching 225 miles (362 kilometers). Rainforest’s chief engineer John Dalton says that sustained wind speeds of 200 miles per hour were the minimum design specification for the cable lift that leads from Rockland Estate up to the top of Sentry Hill. “The design took higher wind gusts into consideration. I believe that is approximately what we saw at the top of Sentry Hill so Irma took things right to the edge of the design envelope.”
That the installation survived Irma’s onslaught is not only due to its design; hurricane preparedness also played an important role. Dalton: “We removed all the chairs from the chairlifts and strapped them down, leaving the cables on the towers. We also dropped the zip line cables into the bush and tied them off so they could not get loose. We double barred the hurricane shutters on all the new buildings and put lots of weight on the loose containers.”
The preparation took an effort from employees and contractors that Dalton deeply appreciates. “Our employees and contractors showed up in force and worked very hard to protect all they had built. They deserve tremendous credit for being St. Maarten Strong. Irma showed what an awesome team we have at Rockland Estate.”
Dalton notes that the park was designed to withstand an event like Hurricane Irma. Nevertheless, he says: “We were quite relieved that there was not more damage as things went more or less as planned. The best move we made was to really clean up so there was a minimum of flying debris.”
The hurricane also put the company’s bottom line to the test. After the storm, cruise ships avoided St. Maarten for a while and that put a damper on the number of visitors to the attraction park. Local visitors partially saved the day: The attraction was built for tourists and locals alike and it is the high level of local visitation, even at our guilder=dollar local rate, that has allowed us to get a marginal foothold and keep our employees paid,” Dalton says. “However, as with most businesses, the effect of the hurricane has been negative. We have worked with our partners and lenders to adapt the structure of the project to the current realities of the market.”
Rainforest Adventures had so far proven to be a blessing for the local labor market. Dalton says that the company currently employs sixty people. “We expect the payroll to hopefully increase with business. There are only two foreign employees at the park who are top specialists in their fields.”
The search for a site and the discussions with the government go back to 2009. Rockland Estate quickly stood out, Dalton says. “We were so impressed with the amazing views fro the property, its historical and natural significance and the opportunity to bring a unique destination-defining attraction to St. Maarten that we focused a lot of our organization’s resources on pursuing what we feel is today one of the best attractions in the Caribbean.”
Dalton notes that Rainforest has developed a good working relationship with the government. “We collaborated closely with the government to define the project’s different components and share our planning program. Once they had a firm understanding of the challenges and benefits they took the decision to issue permits. The process took somewhat longer than expected but we are happy to have developed a good working relationship with the government and the community. It is our hope that this investment will serve as an example of the potential in St. Maarten and at the same time help refresh the local tourism product.”
For a more in-depth look at the technical challenges Dalton’s team had to overcome with the design and construction of the Rainforest Adventure park go to: https://skytraclifts.com/john-daltons-lifted-life-in-the-caribbean/
Photo caption: Chief engineer John Dalton at work. Photo skytraclifts.com. Top photo of Rainforest Adventures Skylift installation by Hilbert Haar.
PORT ST. MAARTEN – Mein Schiff 6 made its inaugural call last Friday, April 6th and was welcomed by Acting Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Cornelius de Weever, Port St. Maarten Supervisory Board members and Management, along with representatives from the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, during the traditional welcome and plaque exchange ceremony.
Captain Simon Boddger of Mein Schiff 6 during his welcome message said he was very happy to visit the island adding that he was amazed with the rebuilding effort that has been going on, and how good the island was looking since the September hurricanes.
Captain Boddger said it was his first trip to the island and therefore it was a special visit for him. Mein Schiff 6 was initially scheduled to make its first call in November 2017, but due to the passing of Hurricane Irma, the cruise line was forced to change its itinerary.
Acting Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Cornelius de Weever was delighted to welcome the Captain, crew and passengers to the ‘Friendly Island’ on Friday. “TUI Cruises is one of our important cruise stakeholders. They are committed to the destination and we look forward to receiving many more of their vessels as they come online.
“The TUI Group has been responding to growing demand and has ordered new ships as they have identified the cruise market as a roadmap for growth. TUI Group’s fleet currently comprises 15 cruise ships and the overall fleet will grow to 18 ships by 2023.
“Another very important point is that they cater to the German and European travel market. This is also very important for our destination. According to a TUI global survey, sustainable tourism is most popular among German and French tourists; one in ten Europeans book eco-friendly holidays; around two-thirds of holidaymakers are prepared to make lifestyle trade-offs to benefit the environment.
“As our country steps up rebuilding activities in the coming months and years, sustainable tourism should be part of building back better. Today’s traveller is looking out for much more and our country has to be at the forefront of trends and developments that are taking place in sustainable cruise tourism in order to maximize the benefits and cruise tourism experiences for passengers,” Minister Cornelius de Weever concluded.
Mein Schiff 6 is now on its way to the Mediterranean Sea and will stop in Madeira, Portugal. Out of the Mediterranean, TUI Cruises will be offering a new itinerary for that area in the coming months. Captain Boddger said TUI Cruises was committed to the island and that the lines other ships will be calling at the destination in the coming months.
Prior to making its port of call at St. Maarten, Mein Schiff 6 last port call was La Romana in the Dominican Republic which is one of its homeports in the Caribbean. During the 2017-2018 cruise season, the vessel has been visiting ports in the Caribbean and Central America.
The new build ship made its maiden voyage a transatlantic cruise from Europe to the United States in September 2017.
The vessel is the newest member of the fleet of TUI Cruises and is identical to her sister-ship the Mein Schiff 5.
TUI Cruises, a German cruise line, is a joint venture of the German tourist firm, TUI AG and Royal Caribbean Cruises.
The cruise line caters to the German market. The majority of guests on-board were from Germany. The percentage of German travellers on board TUI ships is around 80 per cent.
The vessel was built by Meyer Turku Shipyard in Turku, Finland at an investment cost of US$620 million. Mein Schiff was delivered in May 2017 and christened in Port Hamburg, Germany in June 2017.
Mein Schiff 6 has a gross tonnage of 99,800; length 968 feet; beam 115 feet; and can carry 2,534 – 2,700 passengers and 1,000 crew. The new build has a number of improvements in passenger amenities and energy efficiency.
PHOTO CUTLINE: L to R: Captain Simon Boddger and Minister Cornelius de Weever during the plaque exchange ceremony.
TOP PHOTO CUTLINE: Group photo.
POND ISLAND – Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Cornelius de Weever, says for those seeking employment opportunities during these challenging times, should visit the Divi Little Bay Beach Resort Job Fair on Saturday, April 7.
A hosts of positions are open: Accounting Clerk, Guest Service/Front Desk Agents, Front Desk Supervisors, General maintenance, Servers, F&B Supervisors, Barista, Hostess, Housekeeping Coordinator, Room attendants, Laundry attendants and supervisors, and Houseman/Driver.
The Job Fair will take place at Divi Little Bay Reception Area from 9.00am to 12.00pm on Saturday.
Divi Little Bay Beach Resort is planning to partially reopen the property on May 1st.
“The re-opening of yet another resort in the country is great news for our economy. It sends a strong message to industry stakeholders such as airlines and travelers that we are open for business. Additional hotel rooms means more airlift for the country, more stay-over visitors and cheaper airfares.
“We are slowly getting there, but it will take some time before our country is back to pre-Irma economic levels. I take this opportunity to commend Divi Little Bay Beach Resort owners and management for being steadfast and committed in their redevelopment and re-opening of the property.
“This opportunity at the same time creates employment opportunities for the many who are jobless. Providing quality hospitality services to our visitors is essential and is what makes destination Sint Maarten standout from among the rest. We must live up to the ‘Friendly Island’ expectation and continue to provide that memorable destination experience.
“I would like to use this opportunity to call on the other resorts that are closed, to fast-track their planning where rebuilding is concerned so our country can be back on track quicker, better and stronger.
“The rebuilding, renovations and renewal process of hotel properties will benefit the overall image of the country as a tourist’s destination in the long-run. Some properties within our hotel stock needed to be renovated and now is the time to do so.
“At the same time, the most powerful hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean/Caribbean last September also proved that we need to have infrastructure that can now withstand what is now the new normal, Category 5+.
“Building back our infrastructure better and stronger are the buzz words for the foreseeable future,” Minister Cornelius de Weever said on Thursday.
PHOTO CUTLINE: Minister Cornelius de Weever.
ORIENT BAY – The scars Hurricane Irma inflicted back in September of last year on Orient Beach, once the island’s prime tourist destination, are still visible but the place is slowly coming back to life. Tourists are returning and small businesses have sprung up here and there.
Most importantly, the beach is in good shape. It is wide – and white. Most of the beach lovers are on the far end in front of the now defunct clothing optional resort Club Orient. The characteristic yellow parasols give the beach its sunny outlook. Way back from the beach a bar has been established.
Near Orient village, heavy equipment operators are working on the reconstruction of Bikini Beach for Sindex Tours that obtained a building permit for the construction of close to 137 square meters (see photo above). Bikini Beach will be set further back from the high water line as well. Further down the beach, work is also underway to rebuild other beach bars and restaurants but the way it looked on Tuesday it could take some time before these jobs are finished.
Months ago, when there was no activity whatsoever on the destroyed and deserted beach, a little green cabin sprung up right next to Pedro’s, a bar that is still completely in ruins. It was the initiative of Luis, a South American who sells pareos and swimwear.
In front if his cabin a local man sits in the sand, displaying some handicraft, but he does not want to be photographed, unless I give him 5 dollars. Unfortunately, I went to the beach with empty pockets, so that picture did not come about.
Just behind Luis’ pareo and swimwear cabin is the beach bar and restaurant Chez Leandra; further down a small company is renting out jet skis.
The return of several beach vendors – peddling hats, pareos and other odds and ends – indicates that Orient Beach is now again attractive for business as well.
Two American tourists, camping out under an improvised tent, said that they are happy to be back in St. Maarten, though they had expected more people on the beach.
Why not go to the Club Orient Beach? “Nah, they’re all naked there. We don’t want to go there,” was the reaction.
Photo caption: Chez Leandra is back with an improvised beach bar. Photo Hilbert Haar.
Photo caption: A destroyed excavator rests in the sand near The Palms. Photo Hilbert Haar.
Photo caption: A small operation but still jet ski rentals are back on Orient Beach. Photo Hilbert Haar.
Photo caption: American tourists enjoy the beach under an improvised tent. Photo Hilbert Haar.
Photo caption: A walk on the beach – it doesn’t get more peaceful than that. Photo Hilbert Haar.
Photo caption: A beach vendor haggles with a potential customer. Photo Hilbert Haar.
Photo caption: This little hut of pareo and swimwear vendor Luis was the first one to return to Orient Beach. Photo Hilbert Haar.
Photo caption: The Palms is still in ruins and has become a platform for graffiti artists. Photo Hilbert Haar.
Top photo caption: The characteristic yellow parasols of Club Orient are back on the beach. Close-by photography on this beach is prohibited. Photo Hilbert Haar.
Orient Bay Beach top tourist attraction desolate disaster area
From the start of St. Maarten’s decision to become a tourism destination we have focused our efforts on recreational tourism. Basically on our “sea, sun, sand” product. Being the smallest land mass divided between two countries helps. And we’re also duty free. These features and having coined the name “The Friendly Island” has attracted millions of travelers to our shores over the years.
But in this day and age, Caribbean destinations must diversify their product in order to remain relevant. St. Maarten is no different.
In a post-Irma era, what will St. Maarten’s tourism product become?
The coming days we will answer that question in 6 parts. This is the intro. In part two (2), we will look at how hurricane Irma can possibly be a blessing in disguise for St. Maarten.
Photo caption: Angry waves beating down on the beach of Belair. If we don’t change ourselves, adapt and innovate our tourism product, nature will force us to. Photo by Milton Pieters.
With the above question in mind, hurricane Irma can possibly be looked at as a blessing in disguise. The devastation caused by Irma has sent the island a few steps back but we, of course, are looking to come back 100 times better than before. You may be asking, where’s the silver lining? Businesses have closed and people have left and buildings were destroyed. Nonetheless, this gives St. Maarten the chance at a fresh start. It gives the island a chance at providing our visitors, and the locals, a different view of our 37 sq. mile beauty. Thinking post Irma allows us the chance to invest our time into cultural tourism and/or sports tourism.
Photo caption: With the slogan let’s build back better, not only is the resilience of the St. Maarten people put to the test after the damages caused by hurricane Irma, but also the creativity and the innovative spirit of the people and its entrepreneurs will be significantly tested. Photo by Milton Pieters.
In part 3 we will look at ways of expanding our tourism product with culture.
St. Maarten, like every other Caribbean island, is rich with history. However, this history is not taught and shared enough, with locals and foreigners alike, and this needs to change. And what better a time to venture down a new path than when the island is in need of rebranding? When we need something to believe in and build on. The exploration of cultural tourism allows teaching natives, as well as visitors, about what St. Maarten’s been through and has to offer.
Photo caption: This photo is a mixture of culture, history and nature, showing that in a post-Irma environment, we have to focus on sustainable integration of these elements in a balanced manner if everything is work properly and consistently. St. Maarten as a tourist destination cannot survive if we do not focus on sustaining all these elements together. Photo by HIlbert Haar.
The island currently has a new head of the Culture department and a temporary government in place. What better a time for new ideas and new programs to be enacted to build up the cultural strength of the people? The Great Salt Pond, The Simpson Bay Lagoon, The St. Martin Book Fair, St. Maarten Carnival, among so many other great things can be properly introduced and taught to the people of St. Maarten. The people then in turn become the natural ambassadors of the island and the treasures it holds. What is most fascinating about cultural tourism is its ability to benefit a destination in two ways. It allows for the host population to better know their land and hold an unwavering pride in what they have. Also, it gives the opportunity to teach those that visit just what differentiates the destination from every other destination that they come across.
Photo caption: The new head of the Culture Department, Clara Reyes, fully engaging students at the St. Maarten Academy pre-St. Maarten’s Day in November 2017.
In part 5 we will look at other tourism options available to us.
Sports tourism is another option. The opportunity for St. Maarten to become the sports hub of our surrounding islands would be easily attainable. For example, Video X Games (VXG), an e-sports competition held a few years ago, showed us that the region is ready and willing for a reason to visit the Sunshine City. After the success of VXG a few other islands have attempted to pick up where they left off. Fortunately for us, none were able to gain the popularity that VXG brought. With the right management and sponsorship St. Maarten can easily pick up where VXG left off. Other options in sports tourism are marathons, bicycle racing and swimming. The Sunset Triple Mini Triathlon is a perfect example of what is possible in this area as well.
Photo caption: Triathletes running to the plunge in the waves on Maho Beach during the Sunset Triple Mini Triathlon held on Sunday, March 18th, 2018. Photo by Milton Pieters.
In part 6 we wrap up this series with our conclusion.