The presence of an all-female Chinese delegation on the French side featured in Saturday’s newspaper sparked quite a bit of interest over the weekend. While just a short visit on their way back home from the United Nations in New York, the initiative is one of the few local efforts made in recent years to target this ever-bigger world power seriously in terms of doing business here.
The St. Martin Tourism Office and Port of St. Martin deserve to be commended for their action in collaboration with Invest Caribbean Now (ICN). There might even have been one or two jealous looks from across the open border, because very few persons from the Dutch side were in attendance.
Nevertheless, “Investing in St. Martin’s Tourism Product,” as the conference with the oriental guests was called, is likely to benefit the entire twin-nation destination. The message that it’s private/public partnerships (PPPs) that can move the island forward was not lost either.
Realistically speaking, one does not have to expect a wave of Chinese visitors or developments by tomorrow. Forging trade relations and cooperation ties takes time, but now at least a start has been made.
Regarding the group from China consisting only of women, figures show they travel abroad considerably more than men do and that shopping is an important factor, as are spas, yoga and spa tours, local cuisine, amusement parks, movies, sightseeing and cultural tours. “The Friendly Island” offers quite a bit of that, while several projects with one or more of those ingredients are in the works in St. Maarten.
The idea of “jumping on the train before it leaves the station” certainly makes sense and hopefully will produce worthwhile economic results for the near future. In any case it seemed like a good, positive move on behalf of all those involved.