Port Sint Maarten chooses EY as a strategic partner

PHILIPSBURG--Port St. Maarten announced that it has entered a strategic partnership with consultant Ernst and Young (EY) Advisory Services to develop the port’s “National Development Plan 2020-plus.” According to the port, this plan should ensure that St. Maarten maintains a relevant position in the cruise tourism market.
  The main objective in partnering with EY is working “holistically and ensuring that all stakeholders are part of the 2020-plus future success of the cruise destination,” said the port in a press release on Tuesday.
  The port also said St. Maarten continues to remain at the forefront of the North-eastern Caribbean cruise market, maintaining more than one million cruise passengers per year since 2002.
  “The destination’s ‘wow-factor’ needs to be addressed, even though the destination ranks high in passenger experience where tours are concerned. The private sector plays a key role in the future development of the destination’s cruise tourism sector and therefore has the power to turn things around while the role of government is to facilitate the private sector, besides its responsibilities for infrastructure, etcetera.
  “We have been told in the past that a lot of destinations have emulated the St. Maarten success, besides developing their own niches. Cruise lines have reinvented themselves by offering new products and services onboard, besides setting up their own cruise destinations.
  “The destination needs to reinvent itself for the new decade and beyond and we have partnered with EY and BDO St. Maarten to assist with this process,” said the Port.
  According to the port, BDO St. Maarten played an instrumental role in the port selecting EY as a strategic partner.
  “We will continue to be the sparring partner on various subjects in line with the strategic agenda of Port St. Maarten,” said BDO St. Maarten Managing Director Paul Lungu.
  Partner at EY Dutch Caribbean, Vernon Huerta, said EY will assist in “identifying, investigating and proposing one or more high-level strategies for the further development of the cruise and cargo activities at the port.” According to him, a strategic plan – including an implementation roadmap – is expected to be ready by the end of June.
  The port said it will finance out of its own coffers several projects in the next two years. These are a small replica of the salt pond, a heritage wall and introducing more green spaces. “This is to further enhance the guest passenger experience at the port since the cruise terminal is the last place they encounter before boarding their vessel,” said the port.
  The port said it is also preparing plans to construct a permanent homeporting terminal to cater to “fly and cruise passengers.” This is to “enhance the experience of guests who arrive on the island to board a vessel for a one-week cruise.”
  The port also wants to strengthen cruise pier south to handle “the increase in storm activity as well as their ferocity that they inflict on infrastructure.
  “Despite facing competitors and emerging new markets, in addition to changes in the travel trends of cruisers, St. Maarten still has the highest guest satisfaction rates, which in the end is still the single most important business driver for the island. We need to stimulate destination ambassadors in order to maintain and grow these already high numbers of satisfaction.
  “Other areas that need to be addressed are the carrying capacity of the island, which links to existing infrastructure as well as the distribution model of passengers.
  “Stimulating entrepreneurship is key to enhancing the product mix by involving new and innovative entrepreneurs/people and opportunities with talent and passion. By understanding passenger demographics, one is able to develop authentic experiences for guests, therefore understanding the business model of tours is essential.
  “For the future success of cruise [tourism – Ed.], the strategic plan that will be developed will include the stakeholders. It is very important as a destination that we take a holistic approach in moving forward together in 2020. We need everyone to be part of the success.
  “… St. Maarten has a lot to offer, but we need to be innovative and enhancing our tours and offering authentic experiences. Together we can accomplish more than we have ever envisioned and 2020-plus holds much opportunities for the local cruise sector,” concluded Port St. Maarten.
The Daily Herald

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