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St. Maarten PM talks tourism in NY

Caribbean Connection

6/12/2014, 10:22 a.m.
Bevan Springer

NEW YORK (June 12)—St. Maarten Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams reaffirmed her commitment to collaborating with her Caribbean neighbors on socioeconomic development issues.

“Tourism is a strong thread of the blanket that stretches across the Caribbean and is becoming more and more of a social development tool,” the prime minister of the Dutch island territory told reporters at a special briefing in Midtown Manhattan.

While in New York, she promoted the attractions of St. Maarten, which shares an island with St. Martin (a French overseas collectivity), at ministerial meetings, awards ceremonies for travel writers and the annual Media Marketplace, in which more than 100 journalists gathered to meet with Caribbean tourism officials and private sector leaders during Caribbean Week in New York.

During the special media briefing dubbed “A View From the Top,” Wescot-Williams talked about St. Maarten’s tourism outlook, as well the importance of regional collaboration.

“We should look at tourism as a tool for social development in St. Maarten and across the Caribbean”, she said. “Economic issues have forced us to look at ways and means of getting together, and we are working collaboratively with other Caribbean nations to mitigate the effects of climate change, as well as social issues of unemployment, crime and health.

“If we in St. Maarten want to remain on the cutting edge in the global tourism arena, we have to invest in our infrastructure,” she declared. “We also need to be more than a seasonal destination and expand on our green initiatives. We need to look at the reasons for the seasonality and make St. Maarten a year-round destination by finding new source markets.”

The prime minister of the constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is home to some 40,000 souls in its 34 square miles, said it is important to continuously explore what cruise passengers are looking for when they visit St. Maarten on their brief stops and learn how to entice them to return as stayover visitors.

“The larger percentage of Caribbean countries depends on tourism, and we need to be able to show our people how tourism can help with unemployment and assist with other areas of social development,” she stated. “We need to show our residents the link between tourism and a better economic and social life ... tourism cannot be seen as a silo, but must be seen as one of the main economic drivers for most of the Caribbean nations.”