NEW YORK, SINT MAARTEN - St. Maarten Prime Minister the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams’ attendance at Caribbean Week meetings and events in New York last week was a resounding highlight for other attendees, ministers and directors of tourism from other nations and journalists from across the North American region. Her presence and her statements reaffirmed St. Maarten’s commitment to collaborating with the other nations of the Caribbean region on tourism and social issues.
The Prime Minister highlighted the region’s common goals as it relates to tourism and its potential to be a driver for regional cooperation: “Tourism is a strong thread of the blanket that stretches across the Caribbean and tourism is becoming more and more of a social development tool,” the Prime Minister told reporters at a special briefing.
The PM also attended special sessions, ministerial meetings, awards ceremonies for travel writers and the annual Media Marketplace in which more than 130 journalists from around the world gathered to meet with Caribbean tourism officials and hoteliers.
Caribbean Week in New York is an annual weeklong series of meetings and events, both public and private, in which the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) conducts its business discussing internal regional issues as well as promoting the region to the public in the Caribbean’s number one source market.
During the special media briefing called “View from the Top” and arranged by CTO for Prime Minister Wescot-Williams, The PM was able to meet with a select group of reporters to talk about St. Maarten’s tourism outlook as well as reaffirm her strong belief in collaboration with other Caribbean nations.
Attending the special “View from the Top” were reporters and editors from Travel + Leisure magazine, Bloomberg News, Travel Weekly, Caribbean Journal, Travel Agent Magazine, TravAlliance publications, The Washington Diplomat and Caribbean Media Corp.
“We should look at tourism as a tool for social development in St. Maarten and across the Caribbean. Economic issues have forced us to look at ways and means of getting together and we are working collaboratively with our other Caribbean nations to mitigate the effects of climate change as well as social issues of unemployment, crime and health,” stated Wescot-Williams during the press conference. The PM, in answering a series of questions from a variety of the reporters present, stated that: “If we in St. Maarten want to remain on the cutting edge in the global tourism arena we have to invest in our infrastructure.
“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.”
Prime Minister Wescot-Williams also noted that St. Maarten has approved a new energy policy to incorporate green initiatives.
The Prime Minister went on to say: “We need to continuously explore what the cruise passengers are looking for when they visit St. Maarten on their brief stops and explore how we can entice them to come back as stayover visitors.
“Air lift remains an issue for St. Maarten and the entire Caribbean and is always a topic on the agenda for all the islands.”
Wescot-Williams concluded by stating that the larger percentage of Caribbean countries depend 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. 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.”
Over the several days in New York, Prime Minister Wescot-Williams participated in several other interviews with reporters and local television and online networks. (From the Cabinet of the Prime Minister)