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TURNBULL STUDYING HIGH TOURISM RENTS

Gov. Charles W. Turnbull is looking closely at the $413,000 the Tourism Department spends annually in rent as one way to cut government spending.
Tourism pays $105,000 a year to Elaineco Inc. for rent in Nisky Center, St. Thomas, and more than $300,000 for offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Puerto Rico and St. Croix, the Independent reported Thursday.
The paper did not know how much Tourism pays for its Taiwan office, which the Legislature never approved.
The $413,000 represents about 20 percent of the department's $2.1 million budget. Some officials believe the money could be better spent.
Richard Doumeng, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, questioned the need for offices in high-rent urban areas in an age when travel agents do most of their business on the Internet.
"Nobody shops for their vacation in storefronts any more," he said. "We maintain high rents on Wilshire Boulevard in L.A. and Michigan Avenue in Chicago, for example, which really doesn't do us much good. Even if you kept all these offices open and moved them to the suburbs, it would save astronomical amounts of money."
The government pays $101,500 a year for its New York City office, $77,573 for its Washington office and $24,500 for a Los Angeles office, according to a legislative post audit report last July.
Gov. Charles Turnbull said in his State of the Territory address that his
administration will review all leases and contracts.
Rudolph Krigger, a top Turnbull adviser, said the amount spent on all Tourism rents "is a major area of concern."
Doumeng said Tourism's need is not for expensive office space, but rather for industry leaders to woo travel agents.

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Gov. Charles W. Turnbull is looking closely at the $413,000 the Tourism Department spends annually in rent as one way to cut government spending.
Tourism pays $105,000 a year to Elaineco Inc. for rent in Nisky Center, St. Thomas, and more than $300,000 for offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Puerto Rico and St. Croix, the Independent reported Thursday.
The paper did not know how much Tourism pays for its Taiwan office, which the Legislature never approved.
The $413,000 represents about 20 percent of the department's $2.1 million budget. Some officials believe the money could be better spent.
Richard Doumeng, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, questioned the need for offices in high-rent urban areas in an age when travel agents do most of their business on the Internet.
"Nobody shops for their vacation in storefronts any more," he said. "We maintain high rents on Wilshire Boulevard in L.A. and Michigan Avenue in Chicago, for example, which really doesn't do us much good. Even if you kept all these offices open and moved them to the suburbs, it would save astronomical amounts of money."
The government pays $101,500 a year for its New York City office, $77,573 for its Washington office and $24,500 for a Los Angeles office, according to a legislative post audit report last July.
Gov. Charles Turnbull said in his State of the Territory address that his
administration will review all leases and contracts.
Rudolph Krigger, a top Turnbull adviser, said the amount spent on all Tourism rents "is a major area of concern."
Doumeng said Tourism's need is not for expensive office space, but rather for industry leaders to woo travel agents.