Tourism Office in Sweden, from left: St. Martin Tourism Office Director Aïda Weinum, European Market Promoter Fabian Charbonnier, Communications Officer Roxane Fleury, Stockholm-based chef from St. Martin Louis de Caunes and Territorial Councillor and Tourism Office management committee member Bernadette Venthou-Dumaine.
MARIGOT--St. Martin Tourism Office organised a first promotional tour in Sweden, Denmark and Norway in February, with a road show in the Nordic countries from February 19 to March 2 to position St. Martin with potential clientele in this still-emerging market.
This was a first in this region for the Tourism Office, which is convinced these countries can be seduced by St. Martin’s attractiveness. The latest market trends show that gastronomic pleasures influence the choices of one third of travellers. These customers are very active and ecotourism-oriented, looking for new cultures, authenticity, excursions and sports activities.
The St. Martin delegation comprised Tourism Office Director Aïda Weinum, Territorial Councillor and management committee member Bernadette Venthou-Dumaine, Communications Officer Roxane Fleury and European market promoter Fabian Charbonnier.
The promotional activities were organised in collaboration with United Spirit Nordic, the Tourism Office’s representative agency in these countries.
The first stop on the Scandinavian trip to Stockholm was the French restaurant “Le Bon Plat” run by a Franco-Swedish couple, where St. Martin chef Louis de Caunes works. The Tourism Office had invited around 20 Swedish agents and journalists, in the presence of the partner Air France/KLM represented by Christine Asa in Stockholm.
After a presentation on the destination and a question-and-answer session showing strong interest, the meeting continued with a tasting of local specialities cooked by De Caunes.
The promotional tour continued on February 24 in Herning, a town in central Denmark, where one of the major tourist trade fairs in the Nordic countries, Ferie for Alle, was held, open to both professionals and the general public.
St. Martin was present on the stand of the tour operator USA Rejser. Meetings were held throughout the day with travel agencies, but also with the partners Air France/KLM and the French tourism development agency Atout France, represented by Benoît Chollet. In the afternoon, the destination was presented to the media at a special event.
The third stage of the Nordic roadshow, in Oslo on February 28, involved a seduction operation with about 20 Norwegian professionals and media. The Tourism Office had chosen the warm and typical setting of the Amerikalinjen Boutique Hotel to present the destination’s assets, in the presence of Air France/KLM, which communicated on the air links between Northern Europe and St. Martin.
All these meetings helped to forge decisive links with tourist partners of the three Scandinavian countries, by offering them a global understanding of the destination St. Martin.
Chef of the restaurant and delicatessen “Le Bon Plat” De Caunes has been an adopted Stockholmer for four years and an asset to the Tourism Office, which was able to depend on his culinary talents to prepare journey cakes, ribs and other local dishes during the first stage of the Scandinavian roadshow.
“In Sweden, everyone speaks English, which makes it easier to integrate,” De Caunes explained. He has also found in this country a lot of kindness towards young people who want to be entrepreneurs, and especially his girlfriend. The son of a paediatrician, De Caunes has been making his own way in the kitchen since he was a child. He left St. Martin for France at age 15 and went to a cooking school after high school.
At age 23, he joined a restaurant in Toulouse after a year-and-a-half of apprenticeship, before his appointment as Head Chef at Elior for the bistro of the aeronautical museum in Toulouse. Although he feels perfectly integrated in Sweden, De Caunes still has a dream: to return to his native island to develop training in the use of local produce in the kitchen and in the art of catering.