|Lisette Coffi, national sales and marketing representative for the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau|
NEW YORK CITY, New York - Travel Agent was on hand Wednesday afternoon for a media luncheon hosted by newly appointed Lisette Coffi, national sales and marketing representative for the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau, who told attendees that St. Maarten is currently experiencing a whopping 17-percent hike in overall arrivals from 2011 and that JetBlue Airways has had a big hand in the positive results.
According to Coffi, JetBlue is slowly "taking over everywhere that American left behind," referring to American Airlines' decision a few years ago to significantly cut flights to St. Maarten's connecting hubs.
Specifically, toward the end of 2011, JetBlue, which is slowly gaining a stranglehold on Caribbean business, added direct service to St. Maarten from Puerto Rico, the biggest U.S. hub for the Caribbean. Because of those flights, travel from the Northeast, namely the Tri-State area and Boston, has increased dramatically.
But there is still work to do be done. Coffi says the destination is in talks with JetBlue, and other airlines, to increase routes and frequencies from the U.S. And if she had her wish? NAME says such markets as Dallas, Chicago and Detroit could use the most help.
Besides JetBlue, other airlines, such as Delta Air Lines, have also done their share in helping to pad the destination's numbers. In fact, St. Maarten recently announced that Delta launched weekly direct service to the island from New York to Princess Juliana Airport (SXM) on December 15.
The air service will occur every Saturday with a departing 9:05 a.m. flight from New York, which arrives in St. Maarten at 2:15 p.m. with returning flights leaving St. Maarten at 3:15 p.m. the same day and arriving in New York at 6:05 p.m. The new route will provide convenient connections for both international and stateside travelers as well as offer added variety for northeast travelers.