St. Maarten Tourist Bureau Hosts Workshop with TripAdvisor and Expedia for Island’s Tourism Private Sector

PHILIPSBURG — Globally recognized and leading Travel Booking Websites TripAdvisor and Expedia led a full-day workshop on global market trends attended by some of the Island’s travel and tourism private sector, in St. Maarten on August 27.

This event was organized by the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport, & Telecommunication TEATT and led by the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau. During the workshop the Travel Companies presented the latest market trends and new opportunities to position St. Maarten’s tourism products and services in North America.

Minister of TEATT the Honorable Stuart Johnson gave the opening remarks and welcomed the attendees. Johnson said on Sunday that these initiatives continue to yield significant fruit in attracting new visitors and securing the return of our longtime vacationers.

He said St. Maarten will take full advantage of opportunities to collaborate with its international partners on destination marketing initiatives “as we continue to position our island as the number one travel destination.”

The discussions and presentations were led by Carol Johnson, TripAdvisor’s Senior Destination Marketing Manager and Ana Medina, Expedia’s Business Development Manager for the Caribbean region. In addition to presenting the latest trends and new opportunities, Ms. Johnson and Ms. Medina also reviewed the campaigns that St. Maarten ran with their respective platforms in 2016, 2017, and 2019.

St. Maarten recently launched an extensive marketing campaign with TripAdvisor and Expedia in the USA that aims to get the message across to consumers that the island is open for business, show the diversity of the St. Maarten’s product offering, and drive bookings to the destination. The campaigns will run through December 31, 2019.

The U.S. is St. Maarten’s top source market. Between January and June of this year, St. Maarten welcomed 92,285 visitors from the U.S., a steady increase over the 67,533 Americans that visited the island during the same period in 2018, showing strong recovery from the hurricanes.

“We are committed to having both public and private sectors work closely together in marketing St. Maarten as a leading Caribbean destination and to helping the private sector find new opportunities to further develop the island’s tourism industry,” said St. Maarten’s Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication, Stuart Johnson.

For her part, May-Ling Chun, St. Maarten’s Director of Tourism said: “We are working in close cooperation with all of our industry partners to ensure the strong and sustainable recovery of the tourism sector on the island and look forward to creating more opportunities for local partners to promote our island’s diverse tourism products.”

About St. Maarten Tourist Bureau: St. Maarten is the smallest island in the world to be shared by two nations – Kingdom of the Netherlands and France – creating a destination with European charm and Caribbean flair. Located at the northern end of the Lesser Antilles, the island’s 37 square miles has 37 breathtaking beaches and is home to many historical and family-oriented attractions. Direct air service is available to Princess Juliana International Airport from major U.S. and Canadian cities.

Ministry TEATT host Destination Marketing strategy meeting

PHILIPSBURG – Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation, and Telecommunication (TEATT), Honorable Stuart Johnson, met with key stakeholders on Wednesday august 14th at Sheer Restaurant for a Destination Marketing strategy meeting that was organized by the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau Marketing and Product Development team.

The interactive whole day session was to share and actively discuss St. Maarten’s Marketing and product development strategies and to conduct an exercise with the stakeholders for an open dialogue on how to work collectively to ensure increase in the visitors’ arrivals and to assure them a memorable experience with the overall product.

“The goal of the meeting was to identify areas where collaboration is needed between our private sector partners in the hospitality industry and the government of St. Maarten through the Ministry of TEATT,” said Johnson.

He said, “Through the efforts from his office over the past year, there have been improvements in the arrival numbers, but the reality is that we are still in need of returning to pre-Irma numbers.”

Johnson said collaborating on brand recognition for the destination as well as creating exciting offers for visitors when they come to the island will go a long way in improving the overall product offer to the travelling world. “There is no time to waste as we are in competition with other Caribbean destinations for visitor arrivals and we must rely on experts who have in the past proven to be pioneers in creating the value within our market that attracted visitors for so many years. “But we cannot forget to enlist the ideas of the younger people, especially considering the increased use of technology and social media in particular to generate attention and market destinations,” said Johnson.

The discussions included the review of recent data collected, the current visitors’ profile, targeted markets, the market current trends, and the way moving forward in our marketing efforts and the destination branding to assure a sustainable tourism product. An outline of the tourism and environmental awareness programs were shared and discussions were held on other product development topics.

“Public Private Partnership (PPP) is key to our destination success, with industry partners that are result driven, and who we have constant communication with to assure we are aligned and work towards a strong tourism product”. Says Director of Tourism May-Ling Chun.

Present was the cabinet and staff Bureau of the Ministry of TEATT, Small Properties Association, St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association, the St. Maarten Time Share Association, Chamber of Commerce, local social media influencers, St. Maarten Marine and Trade Association, United Tour Operators Foundation, The SXM Airport, Port of St. Maarten, and The STB Marketing and Product Development team.

Electric rental cars - a first for St. Maarten and the Dutch Caribbean

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.

STB opens booth at Regatta Village serving as information mecca for visitors and sailors

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.

Mein Schiff 6 Captain Boddger amazed with rebuilding effort

Mein Schiff 6 Group pix

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.

Mein Schiff 6 Capt and MinTEATT

PHOTO CUTLINE: L to R: Captain Simon Boddger and Minister Cornelius de Weever during the plaque exchange ceremony.


Minister of Tourism & Economic De Weever encourages unemployed to visit Divi Little Bay Beach Resort Job Fair

Minister Cornelius de WeeverPOND 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.

GoFundMe Donations Distributed to Divi Little Bay Beach Resort Employees

Campaign raises more than $50,000 for staff in St. Maarten affected by recent hurricanes

LITTLE BAY — Divi Little Bay Beach Resort staff along with a local union representative gathered Monday, November 6, to receive checks from GoFundMe campaign donations.

Set up to assist employees in rebuilding their lives on St. Maarten following devastating hurricanes, the GoFundMe campaign has now raised more than $50,000. $49,025 of the donated funds — the amount in the campaign at the time checks were cut — were equally distributed amongst staff, with the exception of upper management, who chose to opt out.

“We thank everyone who donated from the bottom of our hearts,” said Madeleine Jacob, hostess and cashier at Divi Little Bay’s pureocean Restaurant.

Jacob says this money will help her family recover from the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Irma and other storms.

“I lost my roof and lots of my belongings,” Jacobs said. “This will help with the rebuilding of my home. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

The GoFundMe campaign will remain open for anyone who still wishes to donate to the cause.

The resort is expected to reopen and welcome back guests in May 2018.

To see more photos with this article visit

About Divi Resorts
Divi Resorts is the vacation expert of the Caribbean, with a collection of eight premium resorts spanning the five stunning Caribbean islands of Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, St. Croix, and St. Maarten. For more information on Divi Resorts, call 1-800-367-3484 or visit

Your Stress-Free Holiday Break

The holidays are the busiest time for travel the entire year. People all over the world spend this time of year going from point A to point B in order to spend time with family, see friends, take a break, or do business. All the hustle and bustle that comes with this activity can lead to major stress for anyone trying to find their own way. But it doesn’t have to be too bad. With a little preparation you can go into your holiday vacation confident and secure with as little stress as possible.

Take Care of Gifts ASAP
With the luxury of the internet, gift giving is easier than ever. Take advantage of this crucial tool and knock all your gift shopping out as soon as possible. The best part is having the gifts shipped to your loved ones for you. They come already packaged in a box– think of all the time you will save not wrapping gifts! Plus, most online shops allow you to include a note or greeting as the gift giver. Get all your gifts sent out at least a week before your trip so you have one less thing to focus on and/or stress over.

Pack a Capsule Wardrobe
Whether you are going to visit family in another state or taking a sabbatical with your partner in a tropical locale, the last thing you want to worry about during your holiday travels is clothes. Curate a capsule wardrobe for your trip with pieces you can easily mix-and-match for quick and easy dressing.

Bonus: focus on packing your favorite, most most comfortable pieces to make your travels even more enjoyable. Clothes can actually impact our mood, so picking the pieces that you feel most comfortable in will help keep your spirits up while you are on the road.

Secure Your Home
Nothing can keep you from being in the present, enjoying yourself than worrying about what is happening at home. Ensure peace of mind with a security system that will monitor your home and property when you are not there. In addition to a security system, consider hiring a house sitter that can be there most of the time and make sure that you are not targeted by burglars during the holidays. If a house sitter isn’t an option, ask one of your neighbors to park their car in your driveway while you are way. Just the visual of someone possibly being at home can deter thieves.

Make Time for Your Health
Perhaps one of the most important thing to do to prevent stress and stress-related illness is taking care of you own well being. Exercise regularly to reduce cortisol— the hormone that spikes when you are stressed and gives you that anxious feeling. In return, physical activity boosts endorphins– neurotransmitters that help you feel relaxed and happy.

In addition to exercise, be sure to eat right during this busy time of year. Proper nutrition is important to maintain your health and stress levels. Eating well while traveling can be difficult for sure– and double that difficulty during the indulgent holiday season. The secret is finding balance. Resources like Eat This, Not That! can help you make smarter choices when it comes to your diet so you can enjoy your food responsibly.


The holidays can be stressful, but with the right amount of planning and a positive attitude you can enjoy them. Take care of gifts before your big travel date so you don’t have to worry about that responsibility. Have them shipped to the giftees so you don’t have to worry about lugging them around the country as you travel. Pack smart and comfortable– your clothes can have an impact on your stress levels. Make sure your home is safe by installing a security system and getting a house sitter if needed. Finally, take time for your physical health. Your mental wellbeing is directly connected to the physical, so taking care of one helps keep the other in tip-top shape.

Image by Pixabay

Sint Maarten Nature Foundation Monitors Salvage Operations in Oyster Pond and Simpson Bay

OYSTER POND/SIMPSON BAY — After the granting of permits to salvage operators active in Oyster Pond the Sint Maarten Nature Foundation has started to monitor wreck removal for any environmental effects; “We have started to monitor and assist where possible in salvage operations that were granted their permit by Government for activities in Oyster Pond,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation Manager, “but we are still waiting for the approval of large-scale salvage in the Simpson Bay Lagoon, which is causing us some concern.”

Sint Maarten Nature Foundation Calls for Urgent Action for Wreck Removal in the Simpson Bay Lagoon

Although the Foundation has been involved in some preliminary work in the Simpson Bay Lagoon it is estimated that some 30,000 gallons of fuel and wastewater is being leaked into the environment; “While we understand the need to have everything in place we are urging for salvage works to start soon before the situation gets worse. Our request for assistance has largely been unanswered and we now are dependent on commercial salvage operators to clean up the wrecks. We are therefore urging that all technicalities and requirements be handled and the necessary permits be fast-tracked,” continued Bervoets.

The Foundation has been ensuring that oil spill containment equipment is being properly used in the Oyster Pond area; “We are not salvagers and will have to leave technical aspects of salvaging to the experts, but from an environmental point of view we are there to ensure that the ecosystem isn’t impacted more than it has already been. That is why we are urging, not only for the environment but also for the economy, that large scale salvage works commence soon in the Simpson Bay Lagoon,” concluded Bervoets.

Top photo caption: “Vessel Being Salvaged in Oyster Pond”

SBwreck1Photo caption: “One of the vessels wrecked in the Simpson Bay Lagoon”

SBOilspillsGoogleEarthPhoto caption: “Google Earth Image showing fuel being leaked from two major marinas in the Simpson Bay Lagoon”


Symbolic t-shirts to depict ports are open

Philipsburg — Ministry TEATT on Friday announced that the first arrivals at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) on October 10 and at Port St. Maarten on November 11, will be greeted by staff of both strategic ports and personnel of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau in shirts with a clear message: St. Maarten is open for business. Or, to put it simple, “Yes, We’re Open! Several volunteers will also be present in the shirts.

The shirts depict an airplane for PJIA and a cruise ship for Port St. Maarten. Adorned in St. Maarten colors, the commemorative logo also features St. Maarten’s National bird the Brown Pelican, an outline of St. Maarten in the background, the latitude and longitude coordinates of St. Maarten and the hashtag #sxmstrong, made popular on social media in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. The October 10 and November 11 dates also form part of the logo. Finally, St. Maarten’s area code “721” is emboldened in the middle of a symbol of a hurricane.

Rolando BrisonHead of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau Rolando Brison said the shirts are expressions of pride over the re-opening of St. Maarten and its world class ports in the wake of devastating storms. “We want to acknowledge the resilience of our businesses and our people by means of this logo, particularly to show that the cruise and aviation sectors are open despite lots of work ahead,” Brison said.

He said both sectors have a lot of work still to do, but the message about St. Maarten on the international stage has to change. “The narrative has to change. STB will be working diligently with our international marketing partners to let the world know that we are on or way back up,” he said.

Brison reminded that although hotel inventory is low, there are still properties that can accommodate guests and more are working hard to be back online soon. “Doesn’t matter how many people are on flights come Tuesday, the point is there are people coming to St. Maarten. We want to welcome them back and say thank you, He added.