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Thursday, August 18, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesTOURISM MAKING DO WITH SLIM MARKETING FUNDS

TOURISM MAKING DO WITH SLIM MARKETING FUNDS

As the winter tourist season approaches, the Department of Tourism is beginning its annual advertising campaign to attract visitors to the territory.
But while the department will place ads in 14 major U.S. consumer and trade publications beginning this fall, the government’s money crunch is hampering a larger marketing effort and pushing Tourism employees in new directions.
Based on the previous administration’s advertising schedule for September through January of last fiscal year, Beverly Petrus, Tourism’s director of marketing, said the fall campaign is about the same as last year.
"We’re not doing fewer," she said. "But we’d like to do more."
Although Petrus said $500,000 has been committed to placing ads in Black Enterprise, Boating, Bridal Guide, Caribbean Travel and Life, Essence, Food and Wine, Islands, The New Yorker, Scuba Diving, Travel and Leisure, Black Meetings and Tourism, Corporate and Incentive Travel, Recommend and Travel Weekly, a greater budget would mean more exposure for the territory.
"The amount is definitely inadequate," she said. "But it’s as much as we can do with the available funding."
Acting Tourism Commissioner Michael Bornn has said $20 million is needed annually to competitively market the territory. But a major source of money needed for marketing, the $8 million to $9 million a year collected in hotel occupancy taxes, is being used to cover the government payroll.
And that is forcing the staff at the Department of Tourism into new and challenging roles. The department’s New York City-based advertising agency Lowe and Partners is no longer placing ads for the government because it is owed money.
That means that the department now has to do its advertising in-house and that Petrus had to take a crash course in the ins-and-outs of the advertising world.
"It’s new for the department," she said. "I had two choices: not advertise or learn and jump in."
But the in-house advertising is time-consuming and doesn’t allow the department to gain from the purchase power ad agencies possess, Petrus said. However, when the department finds itself in a stronger financial position in the future, it may return to an agency.
In the meantime, the department is looking to get the most bang for its buck. Most of the publications targeted for the upcoming ad campaign are old standards, like the Caribbean-oriented glossies.
"We’re doing some of the same, but changed a couple," Petrus said. "A few we’ve deemed important like the African American publications. We’ve been pretty much on a high since Sinbad. It didn’t make sense to drop it."
Bornn is also urging members of the territory’s tourism industry to place their own ads in the same publications or others the department hasn’t targeted.
"We want to maximize this promotional effort by encouraging the private sector to piggyback on the advertising placements," said Bornn. "This is an interim campaign that will allow us to maintain a presence in the U.S. market. In spite of the economic crunch that has severely affected our advertising campaign, our schedule provides broad-based coverage that involves several niche markets."
But even if Tourism had $20 million to spend, Petrus said, the private sector has to supplement the government’s effort.
"You’ve got to let (potential tourists) know you’re an option," she said. "Yes, we’re definitely behind the eight ball. But it’s not just a V.I. government thing. It’s a destination thing."

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As the winter tourist season approaches, the Department of Tourism is beginning its annual advertising campaign to attract visitors to the territory.
But while the department will place ads in 14 major U.S. consumer and trade publications beginning this fall, the government’s money crunch is hampering a larger marketing effort and pushing Tourism employees in new directions.
Based on the previous administration’s advertising schedule for September through January of last fiscal year, Beverly Petrus, Tourism’s director of marketing, said the fall campaign is about the same as last year.
"We’re not doing fewer," she said. "But we’d like to do more."
Although Petrus said $500,000 has been committed to placing ads in Black Enterprise, Boating, Bridal Guide, Caribbean Travel and Life, Essence, Food and Wine, Islands, The New Yorker, Scuba Diving, Travel and Leisure, Black Meetings and Tourism, Corporate and Incentive Travel, Recommend and Travel Weekly, a greater budget would mean more exposure for the territory.
"The amount is definitely inadequate," she said. "But it’s as much as we can do with the available funding."
Acting Tourism Commissioner Michael Bornn has said $20 million is needed annually to competitively market the territory. But a major source of money needed for marketing, the $8 million to $9 million a year collected in hotel occupancy taxes, is being used to cover the government payroll.
And that is forcing the staff at the Department of Tourism into new and challenging roles. The department’s New York City-based advertising agency Lowe and Partners is no longer placing ads for the government because it is owed money.
That means that the department now has to do its advertising in-house and that Petrus had to take a crash course in the ins-and-outs of the advertising world.
"It’s new for the department," she said. "I had two choices: not advertise or learn and jump in."
But the in-house advertising is time-consuming and doesn’t allow the department to gain from the purchase power ad agencies possess, Petrus said. However, when the department finds itself in a stronger financial position in the future, it may return to an agency.
In the meantime, the department is looking to get the most bang for its buck. Most of the publications targeted for the upcoming ad campaign are old standards, like the Caribbean-oriented glossies.
"We’re doing some of the same, but changed a couple," Petrus said. "A few we’ve deemed important like the African American publications. We’ve been pretty much on a high since Sinbad. It didn’t make sense to drop it."
Bornn is also urging members of the territory’s tourism industry to place their own ads in the same publications or others the department hasn’t targeted.
"We want to maximize this promotional effort by encouraging the private sector to piggyback on the advertising placements," said Bornn. "This is an interim campaign that will allow us to maintain a presence in the U.S. market. In spite of the economic crunch that has severely affected our advertising campaign, our schedule provides broad-based coverage that involves several niche markets."
But even if Tourism had $20 million to spend, Petrus said, the private sector has to supplement the government’s effort.
"You’ve got to let (potential tourists) know you’re an option," she said. "Yes, we’re definitely behind the eight ball. But it’s not just a V.I. government thing. It’s a destination thing."