PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The Ministry of Education in collaboration with the ministry of TEATT is working towards finding a short as well as a long term solution regarding the island’s school busing transportation system.

It is against this back drop that jointly, the two entities have given the green light to establish a school bus committee.

According to Minister with the responsibility for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs and Sports, the Honorable Silveria Jacobs, the idea is to find a more efficient, safer and cost effective school busing transportation service.

More can now be heard via PodCast.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The government of St. Maarten is now considering the imposition of ‘6% T.O.T.’ on goods that are brought into the island.

According to the Finance Minister the Honourable Richard Gibson, there has been a sharp increase in the amount of goods that are being purchased abroad and brought into the island.

This, the Minister says is having a devastating impact on local business who employee people and pays turn over taxes.

The Minister’s comments came as he provided information on the discussions which he held with the Management of SXM Airport on their reported plans to impose import duties on goods brought in through the cargo section of the airport.

More can now be heard via PodCast.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - During the month of March, Be The Change members raised a total of $795 for SXM BJJ to instill confidence in students through the study of martial arts and self defense training.  

SXM BJJ will be leading a series of classes for students from the Sister Marie Lawrence School ‘Individual Education’ group. Individual Education is a special class within the Catholic school system for students with behavioral issues. The IE group consists of 10 students age 9-12. They will be picked up by private transportation and participate in a 45 minute class at the SXM BJJ dojo in Cole Bay, followed by a healthy lunch.  

The aim of the classes is to provide physical education and teach self defense skills. SXM BJJ also teaches the importance not only of being bully-proof, but also teaching students to be helpful training partners and not become bullies themselves. The nature of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu requires working closely with a partner- this tests a child’s cooperation skills and builds teamwork. 

Each child will also receive a Team T shirt as a uniform. Part of the student’s responsibility will be to remember their shirt for the following week’s class (and keep their school shirts clean and dry)

 The Be the Change donation to SXM BJJ will go towards the transportation, healthy lunch and uniform shirts for this pilot program. SXM BJJ has bne gvign these classes since last month and will continue doing so throughout the remainder of April 2016.

For questions, comments or how you can help out SJJ, please contact Melissa Bardfield, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. cel 721 580 3894.

Be The Change is proud to help support such a worthwhile project. 
Please see our web page at http://bethechangesxm.com/ to see how you can join us in our community efforts.

SEATTLE, WAThe Expedia group, one of the world’s leading travel companies, has begun its rollout of Expedia® PartnerCentral (EPC) Conversations.

The Expedia group’s Caribbean hotel partners can benefit from better dialogue and engagement with booked guests following the roll out of EPC Conversations.

EPC Conversations, accessible through Expedia PartnerCentral, is designed to be an easy to use platform that opens the lines of communication between booked guests and hoteliers via a message centre.

Guests can start a conversation by asking a question or submitting a special request at time of booking. Alternatively, the hotelier can reach out directly to the guest. The tool empowers hoteliers to:

-          Create first impressions and set guest expectations with a custom welcome message

-          Build meaningful relations and enhance the guest experience by sharing check-in details or alerting guests when their rooms are ready

-          Acknowledge, confirm and manage special requests

-          Provide information about the property’s services (spa, concierge, restaurant, etc.)

 “Hoteliers have requested the ability to communicate directly with guests having made a booking across Expedia Group websites. EPC Conversations was developed to answer this need, allowing both the guest and the hotelier to interact with each other, to engage from the moment the reservation is made and create memorable stay experiences.” said Benoit Jolin, VP Global Product.

““According to a recent study by Gallup, on average, guests spend $457 per stay at their most frequently visited hotel over the course of 12 months, while engaged guests spend $588 per stay. Alternatively, actively disengaged guests spend $403 per stay.  Gallup's analysis correlates a strong relationship between guests’ engagement with the hotel, and the amount of money they spend. 

EPC Conversations was designed to maximize guest engagement, creating opportunities for Expedia Hotel Partners to increase top line revenues.”

The initial rollout of Expedia PartnerCentral Conversations started in January to a select number of hotels. The tool is expected to go live for all North America hotels by the end of February.

EPC Conversations makes it really easy to engage with our guests. It’s an especially great tool to communicate with booked guests who have already made a special request and are looking for an acknowledgement, said Emily Bertran, Customer Experience and Social Coordinator for Chicago Westin North. “This past week I had a guest message us with a simple request. She noted that it was for a special occasion.

We were able to quickly respond, accommodate the request, and go above and beyond to make her stay really special. After she returned home, she used EPC Conversations to send a note praising the service and letting us know she would be returning. That’s exactly the type of guest engagement we want and EPC Conversations provides a straightforward platform to do it from.”

EPC Conversations is just one of the ways Expedia PartnerCentral enables hoteliers to connect with guests. Real-time Feedback provides hoteliers immediate visibility into guest sentiment by soliciting real-time feedback after check-in by answering three quick questions so hoteliers can address concerns while the guest is still on the property.

Expedia PartnerCentral also provides easy access to reviews from across all Expedia sites, allowing hoteliers to identify guest feedback that requires attention and thank guests for staying with them.

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Bird watching on holiday – or “avitourism” as it’s now known in the travel industry – is big business.  Whether you’re a seasoned birder, or can’t tell a Blue-footed Booby from a Bananaquit, here are the top tropical destinations for bird watchers to indulge their hobby, reads Reader’s Digest Magazines Canada Ltd. In its “10 Best Tropical Destinations For Bird Watchers.”

The story written by Susan Campbell, describes St. Maarten/St. Martin as a, “…hot spot for migrating sea birds, the dual-nation island of St. Maarten and St. Martin has a burgeoning bird watching scene.

“Visitors to the annual Migratory Seabird Festival can enjoy guided tours to the island’s 164 species in a variety of locations via SeaGrape Tours, and learn more about the birds through local environmental organizations like Les Fruit de Mer and the Nature Foundation.  You won’t need your binoculars to spot St. Maarten’s national bird, the Brown Pelican – it can be found on every beach!”

The St. Maarten Tourist Bureau is very pleased with this publicity that the destination has received from Reader’s Digest travel section ‘Travel the World.’   

“The free publicity that the destination is receiving is priceless, and contributes to displaying the niches of the tourism sector and what else the island has to offer visitors besides sea, sand and sun,” the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau said on Thursday.

Reader’s Digest is a leading global, multi-brand and multi-platform media and direct marketing company that educates, entertains and connects audiences around the world.  It is dedicated to providing its customers with the inspiration, ideas and tools to simplify and enrich their lives.

Reader’s Digest Magazines Ltd. Canadian operations began in 1947, and has always prided itself in the Canadian market as being the most influential Canadian magazine reaching nearly one in six Canadians, more than any other magazine in Canada.

Reader’s Digest has a very strong global presence in 33 countries throughout the world.  It has a total global circulation of 14.4 million and reaches nearly 72 million readers worldwide.

Other destinations mentioned in Reader’s Digest top 10 include Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago, Huatulco (Mexico), Dominica, Inagua Islands (Bahamas), and Aruba.

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