By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: I've heard St. Maarten can be a destination great for vacationing. What's it like there and can you direct me to a web site with travel information on St. Maarten?

A: When you consider that last year, Canada was the third leading international market for St. Maarten's tourism, it becomes quickly evident that this island is a favorite destination among Canadians.

Besides the setting with its sandy beaches and warm weather all year, St. Maarten is a great place to tie the knot. The island has a no-wait policy for getting married. As far as activities, there are 12 casinos and a whole district dedicated to duty-free shopping including historical, cultural and culinary activities.

St. Maarten Commissioner of Tourism Theo Heyliger recently said, "St. Maarten/St. Martin - one island shared by the Dutch and French - shares some similarities with Quebec and Ontario, in that both have two distinct cultures yet no visible borders." Some tour operators offering packaged vacations for St. Maarten include Air Transat Holidays, Conquest Vacations, Red Seal Vacations, Sunquest Vacations/Alba Tours and Signature Vacations.

If you do visit, the St. Maarten Tourism Office reports there is an increased visibility of the tourist safety patrols in public areas. The government of Dutch St. Maarten has tourism patrol officers on foot and helicopter patroling the area 24 hours a day.

For more travel-related information about St. Maarten, contact the St. Maarten Tourist Office at 416.622.4300 or visit the official web site at


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