Reading about the efforts being made by St. Martin Tourism Office (see Thursday paper) to strengthen its presence in Brazil was encouraging. The delegation attended a trade show in São Paulo and toured Rio de Janeiro, two of the vast nation’s biggest cities.
They go there regularly to keep up with an apparently increasing pace of bookings. The related travel is mainly via Panama on Copa Airlines, which will expand its service to Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) to three times per week as of June 23.
Between 2019 and 2022 the number of passengers on the route reportedly went up up by 40%. The COVID-19 pandemic threw a temporary proverbial wrench into the works, but since the carrier returned a year ago twice-weekly the destination is said to have benefited from a more attractive connection with Latin America.
St. Maarten is also reaping the fruits of these flights, but could use a greater visibility in that region. This requires promotion funds of which the French side admittedly has considerably more, but creative use of available means goes a long way.
Diversification of the economy is an often-mentioned goal, but it can take place within the dominant hospitality industry too. One example is the island’s current successful combination of stay-over, cruise and yachting tourism.
It’s similar for source markets. While the US northeastern seaboard and Canada are understandably the main ones partly due to prevailing weather conditions there particularly during winter, other relatively untapped areas in North as well as Central and South America hold much potential also in other seasons including summer.
The same can be said for Europe and especially the Netherlands when it comes to the Dutch side. The so-called ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao) have done better in that sense, but there is still growth in demand.
Proof of the latter is vacation provider Corendon starting its own flights to Curaçao. Who knows, that move might even help persuade TUI to consider service into PJIA instead again and offer KLM/Air France some welcome competition.
Additional year-round business is in everybody’s best interest and should remain a priority. The saying about all eggs in one basket may be old, but still holds true.