The Honourable Stuart Johnson, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport & Telecommunications (TEATT) has finalized months of discussions with the island of Saba and recently signed an MOU with the neighbouring island on co-operate and collaborate in fostering a closer working relationship in the tourism development and promotion of the islands of Sint Maarten and Saba.
The MOU, signed by Minister Johnson representing the Council of Ministers and Government of St. Maarten and Saba Commissioner Bruce Zagers representing the Saba Tourism Bureau, states that both parties agree to “co-operate in participating together at Marketing and Sales promotions in markets agreed on. Parties will also co-operate at travel shows mutually agreed upon.”
The MOU was signed on Saba Monday, October 7th, 2019, following the approval given by the Council of Ministers on Friday, October 4th, 2019 to Johnson.
Johnson first sought and received the mandate from The Council of Ministers before entering the agreement, which had no financial commitments by either party upon signing. Johnson said any joint financial agreements that may follow would have to be first decided upon and agreed to separately.
Based on the MOU St. Maarten and Saba will collaborate towards seeking financing or grants for specific tourism development projects from regional and international institutions which are an added benefit for the islands where possible.
Johnson said the MOU “signifies the commitment I have made from the start of my tenure as Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs, which is the rebuilding of our economy and sustainably redeveloping our Tourism Product. The fact is that when you travel to St. Maarten, there are opportunities to hop over to our neighbouring islands, and we are a more sellable destination when we promote these options jointly.”
He said, “Travellers today are looking for destinations that have interactive and Eco-Friendly activities. We are already unique and unique things in particular, and we are already two countries in one with French St. Martin and Dutch St. Maarten and what better way to expand on our uniqueness than showing the benefit of visiting three or four different destinations within minutes giving the vacationer more value for their dollar.”
Similar to the MOU with French St. Martin, which involves a joint approach to destination marketing, the Saba/St Maarten joint venture program will result in a pooling of resources to maximize the effectiveness of marketing at tradeshows and other promotions.
Other areas where the two islands will combine their resources include data collection, strategic planning press and family trips and training in hospitality. The MOU is valid for an indefinite period with the option of revision where necessary and does not restrict the individual product development and marketing efforts of either party.