ST. MAARTEN Tourist Bureau 7.9% INCREASE IN AIR ARRIVALS FOR FIRST QUARTER 2010 VERSUS 2009

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten (May 27, 2010) – The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau is reporting that overall air arrivals to the destination are up 7.9% for the first quarter of 2010 versus the same timeframe in 2009.  Visitors from the United States rose 6.4% for the first quarter of 2010 versus 2009.  The first quarter of 2010 also saw a boost in hotel occupancy by 5.7%.  The average timeshare occupancy during the first three months was 83.3%.  Cruise passenger arrivals for the first quarter totaled 542,012, a slight increase from 2009’s 541,023.

Between January and March 2010, St. Maarten’s total air arrivals reached 160,908, up from 149,065 in 2009.  U.S. visitors accounted for 47.5% of the total air arrivals at 76,430.

“We are encouraged by the increase in arrivals to St. Maarten for the first quarter of 2010,” said Regina LaBega, director of tourism for the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.  “After a difficult year in 2009, it is good to see that tourism to St. Maarten is rebounding and we anticipate that we will continue to see increased growth throughout the rest of the year as the global economy slowly recovers,” LaBega added.

“We attribute our first quarter growth from the U.S. market to the launch of our new branding campaign in November 2009 which was timed to coincide with the peak winter travel season and keeps St. Maarten top-of-mind through visually appealing ads, public relations and marketing efforts that capture the feelings of the experience that visitors elicit during their stay on the island,” noted Labega.

St. Maarten

St. Maarten is truly a unique island in several ways.  It is the smallest island in the world to be shared by two nations, the Netherlands and France, creating a European-influenced vibe with a Caribbean flair.  St. Maarten is also the culinary capital of the Caribbean with an eclectic array of elegantly-perfected culinary fusion to keep “food lovers” returning each year.  And with more than 300 restaurants, the island has tastes to satisfy every palate and pocketbook.

Located at the northern end of the Lesser Antilles, the island’s 36 square miles has 37 breathtaking beaches and is home to many historical and family-oriented attractions including the vastly abundant treasure of rare animal and plant species at the St. Maarten Zoological and Botanical Garden.  Unique attractions include the historic Fort Amsterdam, the St. Maarten Museum, and the picturesque and symbolic Mount Concordia, where the Treaty of Concordia was signed more than 350 years ago to promote peaceful coexistence of two cultures on one island.

The Dutch capital of Philipsburg offers duty-free shopping with bustling city atmosphere in the heart of the Caribbean, while nightlife activities provide endless entertainment with 14 casinos and numerous nightclubs.  During the day water sport enthusiasts can take full advantage of the island’s scuba diving and snorkeling facilities which are located throughout the island. The island boasts a wide array of marine biodiversity and unique underwater dive sites that include the H.M.S. Proselyte, a notable British frigate which sank in St. Maarten’s waters since 1801.

Accommodations are varied with many designed to exceed the expectations of even the most discerning traveler and include elegant private villas, family oriented resorts, quaint cottages and luxury spa resorts.  Air service is available to Princess Juliana International Airport from numerous U.S. and Canadian cities as well as from Europe, South America and the Caribbean.

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