A St. Maarten delegation led by tourism commissioner Frans Richardson, was in Florida last week, exploring, among others, the potential for marketing the island and to address airlift issues.
The delegation was updated about trends in airlift bookings and hotel reservations, tracking developments as of 2007.
The island government of St. Maarten is presently awaiting proposals with regards to marketing the island for the remainder of 2009.
Talks were conducted with senior executives of Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Spirit Airlines and American Airlines, during the recent visit.
The meeting with Expedia, St. Maarten’s largest online wholesaler, was of an introductory nature, with the commissioner being briefed on St. Maarten’s performance.
One reason mentioned for a decline in tourist arrivals is the lack of an island wide promotional effort as compared to, for instance, St. Lucia which does have such an initiative ongoing.
Proposals of how this can still be achieved for St. Maarten is presently being awaited.
Officials of Travelocity confirmed the decline in bookings as well the practice of visitors booking their flights much closer to the date of travel as compared to the 30 to 45 day booking window, previously experienced.
The meeting with Spirit Airlines served to obtain a commitment from the carrier that service would be maintained for St. Maarten.
Introductory discussions were additionally conducted with Kahn Communications, a PR firm representing St. Maarten. Among topics discussed were strategies for a coordinated effort at marketing the island.
The companies with which talks were conducted are all major online operators, where visitors go to for the purpose of booking flights and other travel needs.