The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau alongside Office de Tourisme St. Martin promoted the destination at the annual ‘Salon des Vacances’ that took place from February 6th to February 9th in Brussels, Belgium. This holiday fair attracts over 100.000 visitors annually, and had over 400 exhibitors present promoting their product or destination. Both tourism office representatives were able to meet with several travel industry professionals to discuss partnership possibilities, as well as provide updates of the improved tourism product. General information about the destination was also provided to Belgian vacation seekers.
Belgium is a significant market to target since Belgians are avid vacationers with about 80%-90% taking holidays annually. Furthermore, Belgians are not opposed to traveling to long-haul destinations and oftentimes seek quality and authentic experiences. Also, the economy and purchasing power of Belgians is favorable, allowing them to spend more on holidays. In the summer of 2019, a total of 14,3 million holidays has been recorded which is an increase of 9% compared to 2018.
“Promoting the destination to Belgian vacation seekers will diversify the type of tourists visiting the island and aid in overcoming seasonality since Europeans tend to take long-haul vacations in the Spring and Summer months. Also noteworthy to mention is that cruise trips to distant destinations are becoming more popular amongst Belgians of which many has visited the destination or plan to visit by cruise. This offers us the opportunity to carry out promotional campaigns on this market to convert past cruise visitors to stay-over visitors. Being present at Salon des Vacances allowed us to hand out useful information to consumers who didn’t know about the destination, as well as offer advice to those that will be visiting St. Maarten on a cruise” said Gianira Arrindell, Acting Section Head Marketing and overseeing the European Market at the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau.
According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which is the world's largest cruise industry trade association, 71.000 Belgians went on a cruise in the past year which is forecasted to increase steadily.