PHOTO CUTLINE: Representatives from the Dutch and French side tourism bureaus among other government representatives, meeting with Thomas Cook officials.
The Honorable Minister Romeo Pantophlet, representatives of the Sint Maarten Tourist Bureau, Department of Civil Aviation and L’Office du Tourisme de Saint Martin, met with Tour Operator Thomas Cook Northern Europe last week to discuss the possibility of starting a service from Stockholm, Sweden to Sint Maarten for the 2014-2015 tourist season.
Representatives of Thomas Cook Northern Europe were on the island for a familiarization trip in order to see if Sint Maarten/Saint Martin has the type of hotel accommodations as well as activities required to attract the Swedish/ Scandinavian traveller.
Large hotels on both the Dutch and French sides of the island were visited as well as a day trip to St. Barths was made in order to show the unique position this island is in and the advantage for travellers to be able to island-hop, thus maximizing their Caribbean vacation – experience.
During the discussions, the representatives of Thomas Cook Northern Europe indicated that the hotel rates on the island are 20-30% higher than most other destinations they service. However, they will await proposals from the hotels visited on this trip with the rates for the 2014-2015 season.
"Securing this agreement with Thomas Cook will be significant for the island. Based on the travel behaviour of the Scandinavian travellers, the airline will be flying to Sint Maarten every two weeks, which means that the visitors will be on island for two weeks as opposed to the present average length of stay of four days. This means better occupancy figures for the hotels and a greater impact on the economy. I trust that the hotels will be more than cooperative in securing this venture by lowering their rates," Honorable Minister Romeo Pantophlet pointed out.
Thomas Cook Northern Europe will utilize an Airbus 330 aircraft with a capacity of 325 seats. The representatives informed the Minister that they will have a final decision by October 2013 on whether or not they will start service to the destination.