December 2003 The first Cruise Conversion Coin was given to the one-millionth passenger as part of the launch of the Cruise Conversion Program. The cruise conversion program was coordinated in cooperation with the Commissioner of Tourism, Theo Heyliger, the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, the Harbor Holding Company, the St. Maarten Ports Authority and the SHTA.

November 2003 The SHTA assisted with the organization of the 2003 Career & Study Fair which was held at the Great Bay Beach Resort on November 4, 2003. The SHTA promoted tourism and hospitality careers. With tourism supporting over 95% of the island’s work force, a career in the industry is becoming more and more important to sustain the local labor market.

November 2003 The SHTA co-sponsored Fiona Murray to speak on the possible future UPT status of St. Maarten along with the Bureau of Constitutional Affairs and the Chamber of Commerce.

November 2003 Over 150 travel agents experienced St. Maarten as part of the KLM Travel Agent FAM trips organized by the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and the SHTA. The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau organized a number of island tours and property inspections and SHTA members offered special agent discounts to support the European market.

October 2003 The SHTA sponsored a commemorative coin for the launch of the Cruise Conversion program at the FCCA conference that was held in St. Maarten. The cruise conversion programs aims to convert cruise passengers into stay over visitors over the long run. Studies showed that converting a mere 1% of the million cruise passengers that stayed on the island would result in over $13 million in additional revenue to the island in expenditure and taxes.

October 2003 The SHTA launches its redesigned consumer website,, as part of the St. Maarten Web Ring with the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, the Nature Foundation, the St. Maarten Heritage Foundation and the Marine Trades Association. The goal of the web ring is to collaborate with online information to avoid duplication and incorrect information as each organization would be responsible for maintaining their information.

September 2003 Over 22 SHTA members participated in the annual marketing meeting that was divided into three sessions updating members on the cruise market , the European market and the US market.

September 2003 The SHTA hosted the first Tourism Summit with the tourist bureaus and hotel associations of the North Eastern Caribbean as well as regional airlines. Under the slogan “Stronger Together”, the goal of the summit was to work on stronger cooperation to secure airlift from Europe and the US.

September 2003 The SHTA became a member of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Chapter Holland as part of the island’s move to focus more on the European market. The SHTA also sent a delegation to the CTO road shows that were also held in September.

August 2003 The SHTA began its US advertising campaign with the slogan “Experience Europe in the Caribbean”. The campaign ran in the Miami, Florida and Fort Worth, Texas every Sunday for a total advertising cost of $70,000. The campaign was made possible through the advertising in the Experience St. Maarten magazine for which the SHTA receives $0.50 advertising credit for every dollar spent in advertising.

August 2003 St. Maarten targets the European market with a joint delegation of Commissioner of Tourism, Theo Heyliger, St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, and SHTA attending a number of meetings with marketing firms, PR firms, tour operators and fulfillment houses in The Netherlands.

August 2003 The SHTA employs Jasper Dirckx and Giselle Williams as Project Managers to broaden its permanent staff to support continuity, project development and execution, and relationship building with SHTA membership and other stakeholders.

July 2003 The SHTA launches the CARIBCERT pilot-program sponsored by the Dollar-a-Day Fund. CARIBCERT is a certification program that was initiated by the CHA. The St. Maarten Labor office supported the program by providing four unemployed room attendants, which when certified will have preference over non-certified foreign labor.

July 2003 The SHTA’s Dollar-A-Day program sponsored four local students to attend the Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station (VIERS) as part of an environmental awareness program. The students took part in snorkeling, hiking, laboratory tests and more.

June 2003 Norbert Marrale leaves the SHTA.

May 2003 The SHTA and its members assist the government funded Carrying Capacity Study that was executed by Tourism & Travel Consult, an Irish-based company.

April 2003 The second annual SMART is held at the Maho Beach Resort from April 23-25. The numbers of delegates increased compared to the previous year.

April 2003 SHTA First Vice President, Paul van Vliet, was appointed as a member of the Social Economic Council (SER). The SER, a federal tri-partite consultative body, is generally consulted by government on draft legislation and other matters. SER also has the right to prepare advice to government. SHTA is already represented on the local Social Economic Council.

April 2003 The Island Government commissioned Tourism Travel Consult (TTC) to conduct a carrying capacity study to measure the impact of tourism on the economy, social life and the environment of St. Maarten. The SHTA assisted with the gathering of statistics and other information from its members.

March 2003 The SHTA broadens its staff with the addition of two trainees from the Hotelschool The Hague, Jasper Dirckx and Giselle Williams.

January 2003 The SHTA’s annual fundraiser was held at the la Terrace Restaurant at Princess Port de Plaisance. The theme of the evening was New Beginnings to reflect the high hopes for the new tourism season’s recovery after another year without hurricanes or terrorist attacks. The SHTA donated $5 for every ticket sold to Crime Stoppers, an organization that provides rewards to persons who help solve or prevent crimes.

January 2003 The launch of the first version of the SHTA consumer website, The goal of the website is to profile smaller properties to gain more visibility. SHTA has applied for funding for the website to be promoted heavily through the travel trade, print publications, e-mail broadcasts, and by online keyword advertising. 2002

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