Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Hon. Claret Connor, received a courtesy visit from a childhood friend St. Maarten Air Traffic Controller Joslyn Rombley at his office last week. Rombley wanted to introduce two long-time visitors to the island Mr. and Mrs. Paul Gagnone, from New Hampshire, United States of America, to the Minister who is responsible for Tourism.
Paul and Yvonne have been coming to St. Maarten every year since 1986. They shared about a very unfortunate incident they encountered on their first ever visit to the country. The first evening after settling into their condominium room, they received an uninvited visit from a stranger.
This very bad experience soon turned into an unforgettable one as the entire community from the law enforcement to neighbours came to their rescue and helped them through this auspicious ordeal.
Due to the caring response by the St. Maarten community, the couple soon realized that they have discovered a community of people that were so caring and friendly that they decided to return to the island the following year and have been doing so for almost 30 years ever since.
Over the years the couple have befriended a number of St. Maarteners and their annual visits have been extended for a longer period of time.
The Gagnone’s also wanted to inform the Minister of their intensions to use some of their vacation time to volunteer in the community during their upcoming visits.
The couple expressed appreciation that the Minister took time out of his very busy schedule to meet with them on the suggestion of Rombley.
Minister Connor indicated that these stories are a true testament of the real St. Maarten tourism product. “It speaks of the innate nature of our friendliness and caring spirit as a people,” Minister Connor pointed out.
Minister Connor presented the couple with a small token courtesy of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and expressed his appreciation to the Gagnone’s for sharing a number of fond personal memories of their past visits to St. Maarten, the Friendly Island.