Marketing Association Turning Summer Efforts on Midwest

BY KRISTIN O'MEARA

Reed Travel Features

PHILIPSBURG -- The St. Maarten/St. Martin American Marketing Association (SAMA) is gearing up to promote the island in the Midwest this summer while covering its bases on the East Coast.

According to president Cyndi Miller, the independent marketing group will head for Midwestern cities as part of its twice-yearly presentations to retailers.

Eight seminars will be offered from June 9 through 13, Miller said, in breakfast and dinner programs conducted in major cities such as Cleveland and Detroit.

"We will invite about 150 agents to each presentation; we're finalizing our venues over the next few weeks," she said.

Miller said that it is important for SAMA to target these secondary markets now, after focusing on rebuilding the Middle Atlantic and Northeast markets in the time following Hurricane Luis in 1995.

"I think we've gotten the message out, and now we need to reach out to the Midwest to expand on the story," she said.

The group is in the final days of a Northeast sales blitz focusing on Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

SAMA representatives from 26 island hotels and major tour operators are in the process of visiting approximately 600 area agencies, Miller said.

Participating operators are Friendly Holidays, Gogo Worldwide Vacations, Globetrotters, GWV, TNT-Haley and Travel Impressions, she said.

In addition, SAMA is sponsoring agency functions, such as a meeting of Travel Agents of Brooklyn, and will be represented at a monthly meeting of the New Jersey chapter of the Caribbean Tourism Organization. The group also will participate in Travel Impressions' shows in the southeastern U.S., she said.

"We're discussing the openings and reopenings of several hotels, as well as the addition of new charter service by TNT from Pittsburgh," she said.

The service, slated to run weekly from June 29 through Aug. 31, will be operated on 727 equipment by Sun Pacific Airlines, with onward service to Antigua.

The operator will feature seven-night packages as well as air-only rates.

Package prices start at $799 per person, double, at the Marine Hotel, including transfers, taxes, tips and departure taxes.

Roundtrip air-only rates start at $499.

For more information on the new service, call (800) 262-0123.

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