POND ISLAND – Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) Cornelius de Weever, recently led a delegation that met with American Airlines (AA) entire team from across the United States who handles the Caribbean Region and Sint Maarten regarding airlift into the country post-Irma.
The objective of the meeting was to inform AA about the current state of the destination with respect to tourism and hospitality services for the travel trade.
Some of the agreements reached between AA and the destination is that the Charlotte Hub will be reinstated and overnight flights will be resumed later down the year. Some additional steps, like ensuring that hotel rooms meet the criteria for overnighting crew members, need to be taken before the aforementioned can be implemented.
A delegate from AA has since visited the destination and were very impressed with the recovery of the country.
“It is very important at this stage in our nation’s process of Building Back Better to maintain frequent contact with our travel trade partners on how business is being restored, the current status of hotel properties and the timeline for reopening of other properties, an update on developments at Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM Airport), the marine sector, the hub function of SXM Airport and airlift to neighboring islands, status of beaches, restaurants and entertainment etc. Our discussions with AA were very productive and positive.
“We pointed out that Sint Maarten is open for business and progress is slowly being made in different areas. The information exchanged goes a long way where it concerns an increase in airlift decision-making and confidence in the destination. AA is one of the oldest carriers that has been serving the destination for decades.
“As part of the delegation, it was very important to include major Sint Maarten industry stakeholders such as the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA), the St. Maarten Timeshare Association (SMTA) and the St. Maarten Marine Trades Association (SMMTA).
“Their individual members play a very important role every day and it was important for them to share their experiences with our airline partner AA allowing them to make key decisions of restoring additional airlift services as soon as possible,” Minister Cornelius de Weever said on Tuesday.
AA was provided with information and data that included 76 per cent of travelers on AA to the country are leisure visitors; 30 percent of seats of travelers are destined for Anguilla and St. Barths; over 38 per cent consists of family group travelling; and many of the visitors stay in private villas and homes.
The Sint Maarten delegation met with Peter Vittori, Managing Director of Sales & Marketing for Latin America & the Caribbean, Michelle D. Gay, Product Manager, Marius Jaseviscius, Manager – Network Planning Director, Domenico Matinata, Regional Sales Director, and Oliver Bojos, Country Director.
The Sint Maarten delegation comprised of Chief Operating Officer (COO) Michel Hyman of SXM Airport, Ricardo Perez, the President of the SHTA as well as member of the SMTA and SMMTA, and Regina M. LaBega, member of the Cabinet of the Minister TEATT.