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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, June 20, 2024
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ADVERTISE THE VIRGIN ISLANDS

One of the goals of most government officials is to increase the number of passengers flying into the Virgin Islands daily. But have you ever wondered why the number of passengers flying into the territory is not as high as we would like it to be (OK, aside from the expensive fares?)
At the university I attend in the states it is so disappointing to find out how naive some people are about the existence of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
When I tell people where I'm from their eyebrows raise with amazement. Then come the interesting questions and responses: "The Virgin Islands…I've been there! Oh…never mind, that was the Bahamas." "How does it feel to be going to school in another country?" "What language do you speak in the Virgin Islands?"
I guess I can't blame some people for being so naive. The reason why is because the V.I. does not get as much exposure as some other Caribbean havens like Jamaica and the Bahamas.
When I watch game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy" or hear about lottery drawings for free trips, the winner usually goes to Jamaica or the Bahamas or maybe someplace like Barbados or Aruba.
On another note, it was a pleasant surprise when I was watching TV in my college dorm and saw a commercial with little kids of all ethnic backgrounds running on the beach and claiming that they were American. There were beautiful views of sugar mills and of crystal clear water complementing the bright white sand. Lo and behold it turned out to be an advertisement for the U.S. Virgin Islands. "They're your islands," the voice from the commercial chimed. "Wow!"I thought.
Before that commercial it seemed the only time the V.I. got national exposure was when a hurricane hit the territory or when the crime rate was atrocious (particularly when tourists were the victims).
But what happened to the days when some game shows offered trips to the V.I. as the grand prize? Those prizes should be offered again. The V.I. Department of Tourism needs to collaborate with the local hotels in order to arrange trips as game show and drawing prizes. Not just because the winner can get a free trip, but so that the V.I. can be advertised to TV viewers.
While it may be true that we receive a lot of tourists through cruise ships, those passengers are only here for a day and may not contribute to the economy significantly. The key to obtaining more money from tourism is getting tourists to stay for a few days at our beautiful resorts. The Virgin Islands have some of the best resorts in the Caribbean but not many people will know that if the resorts and islands as a whole are not advertised.
In conclusion, more advertisement and exposure can lead to more passengers coming into the V.I. More passengers mean more flights. More flights mean more competition among airlines. More competition among airlines means lower fares. It may be a slight risk but, hey, with the debt so high we must take some risk to get out of it.

Editor's note: Michael Meyers is an engineering student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

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