Published On: Fri, May 11th, 2018

Dutch and French side cement joint tourism promotion

Chun-De Weever-Damaseau-Weinum - 20180511 HH

LOTERIE FARM – By the end of the year, 2,145 rooms will be available for tourists on the Dutch side of the island – 54 percent of the room inventory the island had before Hurricane Irma. The French side will have 700 rooms ready for use by year’s end. Tourist Bureau director May-Ling Chun and her French counterpart Aïda Weinum made these announcements on Friday afternoon during a press conference at Loterie Farm, where Minister Cornelius de Weever (Tourism and Economic Affairs) signed the French version of the memorandum of understanding that seals the cooperation between the two sides of the island in the field of tourism development and marketing with Valérie Damaseau, the President of the French Tourist Bureau.

Bill Welch - 20180511 HHLoterie Farm owner William Jordan Welch, affectionately known as BJ, told a gathering assembled near the swimming pool at the property that for the first time since he started bringing sustainable tourism to the island eighteen years ago, a press conference was held at his location.

But the occasion was more than that, he pointed out: “This is the day we replace fences with bridges; we are on the same side of progress and peaceful co-existence. We have very challenging times ahead of us, so let’s turn our ideas into results. Let’s create our master piece.”

Ravi Daryanani - 20180511 HHRavi Daryanani, the chief financial officer at Princess Juliana International Airport added that his airport is the main portal to the island. “But we are one destination,” he said.

May-Ling Chun said that the airport had started collecting data for marketing purposes back in April. She noted that currently one thousand rooms – or 27 percent of the pre-Irma room inventory – are available for use and that this percentage will increase to 54 by the end of the year.

The French side currently has just 200 rooms open for business, but Aïda Weinum, director of the French-side tourist Bureau said that this number will almost triple towards the end of the year.

“We all have to be on the right side to promote St. Maarten as one,” Minister Cornelius de Weever said in a brief address. “We are two sides of the same coin and we have to share the few coins we have available to maximize our marketing. If we rise, we will rise together.”

Valérie Damaseau pointed out that the signing of the Dutch-language version of the memorandum of understanding in Oyster Pond in February was “not about taking a great picture.” Since the signing of the cooperation agreement – to promote St. Maarten and Saint Martin as one destination and as The Friendly Island – two directors have been appointed at the respective tourist bureaus – May-Ling Chun and Aïda Weinum.

“We want to promote the island as one and combine our knowledge and tools,” Damaseau said. Part of the cooperation are a joint e-newsletter, a joint promotion film and a joint media campaign.

Damaseau and Minister De Weever signed the French version of the memorandum of understanding on Friday afternoon. They both received a framed copy, that will get a place on the wall in their respective offices.

“If we do this individually we are guaranteed to fail,” Damaseau said about the marketing efforts. “United we stand, divided we fall.”

De Weever and Damaseau - 20180511 HH

Photo caption: Minister Cornelius de Weever and Valerie Damaseau show the framed copies of the French-language memorandum of understanding. Photo Hilbert Haar.

Photo: Ravi Daryanani, chief financial officer at Princess Juliana International Airport. Photo Hilbert Haar.

Photo above: From left: May-Ling Chun, Minister Cornelius de Weever, Valérie Damaseau and Aïda Weinum at the press conference at Loterie Farm. Photo Hilbert Haar.

Photo: Loterie Farm owner Bill ‘BJ’ Welch was happy with the first press conference in eighteen years held at his property. Photo Hilbert Haar.