PHILIPSBURG - The 15th SMART - St. Martin/St. Maarten Annual Regional Trade Show - is slated for May 18th -20th , 2016 at Le Beach Hotel (former Beach Plaza Hotel) on the Northern side of the Island. SMART is the largest trade show in the North Eastern Caribbean for Tour Operators, Travel Agents, Travel Writers, and Event Planners from the US, Canada, Europe, and Latin America. The online registration for participation is now open and available for all interested persons. Registration can be done via Registration period is open from March 14th to May 6th, 2016.

Attendees at last year’s event concurred that it was a successful SMART and organizers are, once again preparing to surpass expectations with the 2016 edition. This year the host venue will be on the Northern Side of the Island. The alternation of host venue’s on either side of the island is a tradition that dates back to the inception of the event. for over 15 years, SMART has been tangible evidence that a collaboration between the French and Dutch tourism stakeholders of the island can be lucrative and successful .

The L'Association des Hoteliers de St. Martin, L'Office du Tourisme de St. Martin in conjunction with the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau and St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association are expecting numerous Tour Operators, Travel Agents, Travel Writers, and Event Planners from the US, Canada, Europe, and Latin America to return to the island for this important event. The tradeshow provides a unique opportunity for local and regional hoteliers and activities providers to present their tourism product, network and negotiate prospective business opportunities.

After years of success and progress, in addition to St. Martin/St. Maarten, other islands attending this event now include Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Saba, St. Barth’s, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts & Nevis, and Barbados. It has become a very significant event for the entire region in recent years, one that should not be missed!

SMART 2016 kicks off on Wednesday May 18th, 2016 when delegates have the opportunity to meet and mingle with their peers at the Welcome Reception hosted at Le Beach Hotel, before a full day of business where participants have set up appointments with travel partners and wholesalers as well as hotel and excursion operations for one-on-one discussions on potential business ventures. In addition to the pre-organized appointments, throughout the trade show, participants may also set up additional appointments.

Registration and additional details are available on the website or the SHTA website by contacting the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and/or by phone at 542-0108. SHTA looks forward to welcoming all participants to SMART 2016.

CUL DE SAC, St. Maarten -- The first batch of students to enroll in St. Maarten Academy’s CAPE programme are now in the final stages of preparing for their external examination slated to begin in June 2016.

            St. Maarten Academy started CAPE in September 2014 with a cohort of 28 and according to the CAPE Coordinator, Roxanne Bloomfield, these students "are being prepared to be trailblazers in the wider society as they will be equipped with the requisite Associate Degree to enter any university or place of employment.” Once successful, they will be the first batch to graduate with their Associate Degree.

            The Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) Associate Degree is awarded for the satisfactory completion of a prescribed cluster of seven CAPE Units, including Caribbean Studies and Communication Studies. These qualifications are treated similarly to UK Advanced level qualifications.

            Academy's principal, Drs. Tallulah Baly-Vanterpool, paid tribute to the outstanding achievements of the CAPE students as they marked this milestone during the schools’ Open House in February.

            She lauded them on their performance in the May 2015 sitting of the CAPE Unit 1 examinations where they achieved 100% pass rate in Accounting, Communication Studies, Management of Business, Information Technology and Physics. Biology had a 75% pass rate, while Pure Mathematics recorded a pass rate of 42%. This achievement, Mrs. Baly-Vanterpool said, paved the way for them to become pillars in the society.

            “I am looking for great things from you…You have proven that you are hard workers and that with dedication you can excel,” the principal told the scholars.

            During her presentation to the parents, Drs. Baly-Vanterpool also stated that “this occasion is even more poignant as we are welcoming the prospective new first form student while preparing to say “God's speed” on your academic journey to our CAPE year two students.” She further stated that “this two-year journey at the post-secondary level at St. Maarten Academy will not only culminate in obtaining a Caribbean Associate Degree, but also getting placements in universities in Holland, Guyana, and Curacao, the US, Canada, and Jamaica.”

            The CAPE programme at St. Maarten Academy allows students to transition into the world of work and understand the responsibility of a university programme while being able to accumulate college credits that can be transferred to a university of their choice.

            The CAPE programme is a vehicle that can pave the way for a person’s academic future. To begin the journey of academic excellence, St. Maarten Academy is now accepting applications for the 2016/2017 academic year. This application period will end on March 31, 2016.

Pond Island – TelEm Group’s carnival promotion team have taken the wraps off a spanking new four-door Mazda2 Sedan that will go to the lucky winner of this year’s “I Am Carnival” SMS promotion.

The super ride can be seen on show at the Festival Village where it will remain until the winning prize is claimed on the last night of Carnival.

Organizers say all subscribers have to do is send as many SMS messages with the word Carnival to 7777 as they can. The person sending the most messages from now until the night of the Burning of Momo on May 3rd, 2016, when the winner is announced - takes home the 2016 Mazda 2 Sedan prize.

The gleaming white Mazda2 features: keyless entry, bluetooth audio and phone system, push button start and dual transmission. The prize model also comes with a black interior with red trim on the dashboard – and a cool pop up screen.

Promotion organizers say each SMS sent during the promotion will cost $1 and conditions, such as a minimum age requirement will apply.

“This is the first time TelEm Group will be offering such a terrific prize during Carnival to further promote our involvement in the island’s premier touristic and cultural event,” said Carnival team coordinator, Grisha Marten.

She said Carnival revelers who are not fortunate enough to win the top car prize will still qualify for a host of other fabulous prizes that will also be available to those who text the most messages of the word “Carnival” to 7777.

The other prizes include: A 50” flat HD screen TV; an iPad Pro; a HP Laptop; an iPhone 6S and an iPhone 6 Plus and a Samsung S6.

BES Island - On April 6th, 2016 the population of Caribbean Netherlands can participate in an advisory referendum on the law approving the association agreement between the European Union and Ukraine. If you vote you determine along with other voters, the outcome of the advisory referendum.

This week RCN starts with an information campaign on the 3 islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The campaign, which RCN executes on behalf of the Minister of the Interior and Kingdom relations, highlights the voting process. Matters covered during the campaign are among others: what someone must have to be able to vote, how someone can authorize someone
else to vote for him or her, the polling stations and the opening hours of the polling stations. The resources that are used for this campaign are paper ads and radio ads, these will also be posted on the facebook page of RCN.

The Public Entities of Bonaire, St. Eustatuis and Saba are responsible for the organization of the referendum and RCN is responsible for the communication about the voting process.

The Central Government is not authorized to give information about the referendum, this is done by the referendum
commission because it is their task to provide information about the law or the treaty what the referendum is about. Information can be found on de website


PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The first internationally coordinated waterbird count was organized in January 1967 by Wetlands International. Now entering its 50th year, the International Waterbird Census has become a vital source of information for the conservation and management of wetlands and waterbirds around the world. Seven years ago, the Caribbean Islands, under the auspices of BirdsCaribbean, formally began to contribute to the International Waterbird Census; and thus the Caribbean Waterbird Census, or CWC, was born. Every year since 2010, wetlands across the region have been visited by enthusiastic, adventure-seeking volunteers eager to observe and count waterbird populations. The CWC takes place over three weeks in January and February, and 2016 was another fantastic year.

The Caribbean is home to over 700 species of birds, 148 of which are endemic, and the region provides an important site for Neotropical migrants. Wetlands are critical for numerous waterbird species, providing a variety of habitats from swamps and lagoons to mudflats and lakes. Waterbirds depend on wetlands as a source of food or as nesting habitat. For example, one of the biggest wetlands in the Caribbean, Trinidad’s Nariva Swamp provides a vital nesting site for the magnificent Scarlet Ibis. Many species depend on wetlands for refueling and resting, especially during their long winter/summer migrations.

For some, going out into the blistering heat, getting your shoes covered in mud, and being bitten by sandflies and mosquitoes does not sound like the most appealing activity. Yet for hundreds of birders across the region, the Caribbean Waterbird Census is the perfect excuse to take out their spotting scope, camera and binoculars, grab a pen and paper, and visit their nearest wetland in search of waterbirds.

We are pleased to announce that 13 countries across the Caribbean participated in this year’s CWC, and in the cases of Anguilla, Bonaire and Jamaica more than one count was conducted by different organizations and citizen scientists. A total of 321 checklists were submitted, and despite the ongoing drought across the region, a total of 191 species and 30,406 birds were observed in 152 locations! The US Virgin Islands submitted a record 78 checklists.

The most numerous species observed were the American Flamingo (6,265), Glossy Ibis (1,372), Short-billed Dowitcher (1,320), Cattle Egret (1,121), and the Blue-winger Teal (1,107). The most frequently reported species (i.e. on the most surveys) were the Yellow Warbler (142), Bananaquit (104), Gray Kingbird (98), Great Egret (85), Lesser Yellowlegs (83), and the Spotted Sandpiper (72).

The CWC is critical in understanding the distribution, status and abundance of waterbirds on a local, regional and global level, thus helping BirdsCaribbean make informed decisions on their conservation and management. The CWC also helps determine which sites are important for supporting huge populations of waterbirds, as well as the key wintering and migration stopover sites for threatened and declining species such as the Red Knot, Whimbrel, Reddish Egret, American Oystercatcher, and Semipalmated Sandpiper.

Over 240 sites are currently monitored by volunteer counters in BirdsCaribbean’s network. However, with over 7,000 islands and islets in the Caribbean, many important sites have not yet been included. The CWC and other censuses are a great way to involve local communities in citizen science and get young people more connected with the region’s unique and often threatened birds.

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