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The penultimate week of October was cold. It was also pretty much sunless and definitely rainy and damp. Not the best of weather welcomes for first-time visitors who hail from the warmth of the Caribbean.
But Valérie Damaseau, president of the Saint-Martin Tourism Office; Aida Weinum, the tourist office’s director; and Suzanne Scantlebery, the North American manager for the tourist office made the best of it, in fact, they used it to convince the close to 300 travel agents who were on hand for events in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto that the best thing they could do for their clients was to sell them a vacation to Saint-Martin.
In Toronto, Valérie Damaseau, President of the Saint-Martin Tourism Office, told her audience: “It’s such a pleasure to come to Canada – one of our most important markets – but especially so this year, when the pandemic has kept us away from our friends and partners in the industry,”
Damaseau continued: “We have made the journey this year bearing good news: we are carrying optimism and momentum into the winter travel season, and we look forward to welcoming more of our Canadian friends back to our home for a well-deserved vacation.”
The three-city Canadian roadshow saw the high-profile team from the Saint-Martin Tourist Office provide agents with an update on accommodations, attractions, upcoming events and a whole lot more about the destination which ranks Canada as its third largest market behind the United States and Europe, which rank one and two respectively.
One of the messages that Damaseau, Weinum and Scantlebery delivered to their audience in Toronto was that if agents haven’t been to Saint-Martin for a while, like since 2017, on a visit today, they’d discover a whole new destination.
Sadly, that’s because in 2017, Hurricane Irma devastated Saint-Martin, with Damaseau telling her audience that the destination lost 95% of its infrastructure.
But, she observed, the positive of this disaster was that it gave Saint-Martin’s tourism industry a clean slate, allowing it to rebuild everything.
“Since Irma,” the tourist office’s president said, “Saint-Martin is totally new, remodeled, reconstructed. If you haven’t been there since Irma, you’ll be surprised by what you find today.”
Then she got down to business, noting that in 2016, Saint-Martin welcomed 57,000 Canadians and it wants to get back to welcoming that many – and more – Canadians in 2023.
Right now, at least up until the early summer of 2022, Saint-Martin has only seen just a bit more than 14,000 Canadian visitors.
However, the fact that all four Canadian airlines – Air Canada, WestJet, Transat and Sunwing – will be back serving Saint-Martin is certainly reason to expect to see Canadian numbers increase dramatically over the winter and beyond.
The director of the tourist office, Aida Weinum probably won her audience over when she told them that the average daily temperature was close to the mid-80s, but she also pointed to the unique selection of accommodation the destination offered; the wide range of land and water activities and excursions; and the fact that Saint-Martin is the ‘Cuisine Capital of the Caribbean.’
To make her point, Weinum provide details on the hotly anticipated Festival de Gastronomie, a foodie-focused celebration, that takes place from Nov. 11 to Nov. 22, 2022 and will include a BBQ and mixology competition, cooking workshops, and a culinary village realized with participation by Michelin-starred chefs.
Her point about the destination’s cuisine was reinforced by comments from both Damaseau and Scantlebery during the course of the evening, and with both noting that Saint-Martin has more than 350 restaurants that will satisfy the tastes of virtually all visitors.
In her presentation, Weinum also announced that 2023 was “The Year of Events” in Saint-Martin, before going on to highlight the packed schedule of events that visitors to St. Martin can look forward to in 2023 — including the SXM Festival, Carnaval, Love Days Festival and the Oualichi Festival.
There’s lots more to Saint-Martin, but this should give you a bit better understanding of why visitors ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love With Saint-Martin.’
For more, go to https://www.st-martin.org/.
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