Office of Tourism, Sandy Ground - Tourism development and promotion, security and environmental issues were just three of the topics that were discussed during a 3 hour long courtesy visit by Préfête Déléguée, Anne Laubies to the Office of Tourism on Friday, August 21, 2015.
Topping the discussions with the President of the Office of Tourism, Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool, was the issue of security, especially, at Tourism sites. Among the concerns was Fort Louis which is one of the major tourist attractions on the island. The Préfête as part of the conclusions on the topic has agreed to have the situation at Fort Louis assessed with a view towards a better securing of the area and the visitors who frequent it.
Much of the time was also spent on a review of the new five year Tourism Strategic Plan which has as a primary focus the improvement and introduction of more sustainable practices all across the Tourism Industry. With this new plan, according to the President of the Tourism Office, the island can begin to move forward with the revamping of its tourism product with a view towards supporting and protecting the assets that attract visitors to the island while expanding the number of green tourism products.
Among the current dilemmas discussed on the environmental front was the effectiveness of measures that have so far been employed to keep the beaches in the Northeast of the island free of sargassum. The State’s efforts to control the sargassum is being financed under a 2 million Euro program that has been set up to protect the beaches in the French Caribbean.
French Saint-Martin is also reviewing a more effective means of gathering statistics on visitor arrivals, expenditure and other activities. Statistical data collection has become more critical to the Office as it continues to evaluate its promotional activities. Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool emphasized just how important Tourism data collection is to the island’s tourism development and made the case, to the Préfête, that facilities for data collection be approved for Saint-Martin within the National Council on Tourism Promotion.
Préfête Laubies also had the opportunity to have a discussion with the various staff members about their efforts to promote the island’s Tourism product.
Mrs. Rogers-Vanterpool in a statement about the meeting said that “The meeting with Madame la Préfête was very valuable from my point of view because it allowed both to trade ideas and views about the issue of Tourism and its promotion for Saint-Martin.” According to Rogers-Vanterpool the Préfête during the discussions indicated that she felt that tourism was the primary economic motor of the island and as such needed to be given the priority deserved, a sentiment which the Tourism Office President said was very encouraging. “This is of course very important and makes me feel very comfortable in working with someone who understands the value of Tourism to the island’s development and its future,” Rogers-Vanterpool said.