The Saba Tourist Office is once again present at the Holiday Fair (“Vakantiebeurs”) in Utrecht, represented by Director Glenn Holm and Assistant Zuleyka Levenstone. Being at the Holiday Fair is important to promote the island as an increasing number of tourists are looking to visit a green destination like Saba.
“Many visitors decide at the Holiday Fair where to go on their next vacation. We are happy to supply them with information about Saba,” said Holm. This fits in the trend where more people are looking towards receiving personal advice from persons who know the destination well. The Netherlands is an important market for Saba, together with North America, and Dutch tourists are spending more on vacations: an increase of 2 per cent in 2018.
“Tourists are increasingly looking at an escape. They want to elude the masses. The attention for the overly-known touristic hotspots from our branch is slowly moving towards destinations where the visitor has more for his or her own. The trend for the future is being at ease during a vacation, away from the masses. When I think of our island, I have nothing to add to that,” said Holm.
According to Dutch trend watcher Tessa aan de Stegge, an increasing number of travelers are making conscious choices: they want to live and travel in a manner that not only feels good, but which also provides lasting benefits to the country or destination that they visit.
Based on the figures and trends, Holm expects a positive 2019 for Saba. He said the destination suits the needs of travelers and the trends in tourism. “We have 150 rooms and a proportional distribution of the usual classifications and price classes. Looking at our joint efforts in the area of ecotourism from the recent past, I think that Saba is a model for conscious and sustainable travel,” he said.
Transportation frequency and affordability remain a bottleneck for Saba, said Holm. He explained that Winair has four flights a day from St. Maarten and two ferry services with multiple callings per week. There are two charter companies that bring passengers to Saba, Windward Express and St. Maarten Airways. He said that an increasing number of smaller cruise ships and private yachts are finding their way to Saba.
The Tourist Office Director said things have been going very well at the Holiday Fair, which is the largest of its kind in Europe. He said he was happy to have the combined booth of St. Maarten and Saint Martin as neighbors in the Caribbean Village at the fair. St. Eustatius is missing from the fair this year. “It is unfortunate that St. Eustatius wasn’t able to attend this year, but we have their promotional material at the Saba stand and we are trying our best to promote them as well,” said Holm. He lamented the fact that the Holiday Fair has been getting smaller with less exhibitors, primarily due to the attendance costs and the extensive means for travelers to obtain information online.
Holm said he was invited by St. Maarten Minister of Tourism Stuart Johnson and his team to attend a meeting with Royal Dutch Airlines KLM. “The cooperation with team St. Maarten has been really great,” he said.
The Saba team has also been in touch with travel agents, the press and representatives of magazines. “We are making new contacts and updating the contacts already established during the many years of attending the fair.” Mark Johnson is also part of the Saba team. He traveled to the Netherlands on his own expense, representing his property The Cottage Club Hotel and assisting in selling the destination Saba in general. The Holiday Fair started on Wednesday, January 11 and ends on Sunday, January 13.