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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, May 23, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesGOVERNMENT PLEDGES ACTION, MONEY FOR TOURISM

GOVERNMENT PLEDGES ACTION, MONEY FOR TOURISM

At a day-long meeting of government authorities and private sector representatives of the travel industry Monday, V.I. officials renewed their commitment to revamping the territory's tourism product in the months ahead and to providing the financial support to advertise it.
Meantime, leaders of the St. Thomas-St.John Hotel and Tourism Association, which sponsored the gathering, outlined what is being accomplished in the marketing program it has gone ahead with on its own.
Gov. Charles Turnbull and Tourism Commissioner-designate Rafael Jackson were upbeat at the association's 7th annual Destination Symposium. A roomful of travel industry partners, travel writers and other tourism executives at the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort heard Jackson acknowledge that the industry locally "has room for improvement," then add that he is "committed to bringing it back on track."
Turnbull pledged the immediate release of $1.5 million to the Tourism Department for advertising. Government House spokesman James O'Bryan Jr. said later that the funds were from the consolidation of some "dormant accounts." O'Bryan, a special assistant to the governor, said the money was not from the Tourism Advertising Fund, which consists of revenues generated by the hotel occupancy tax. By law, that money is to be used only for tourism advertising, although it has often been diverted to other purposes.
In his presentation, Jackson said tourism in the Virgin Islands is on the rebound and he is optimistic about its future. "We are having one of the better seasons than we have had in years," he said.
Hotel and tourism association president Richard Doumeng and executive director Beverly Nicholson reported on the progress of the marketing program the organization has initiated on its own while waiting for Tourism policies, programs and funding to fall into place. A key element, they said, is the recently launched Cruise Ship Conversion Program aimed at attracting cruise passengers back to the territory as overnight visitors. There are also strategies to attract travel agents and to reach the Puerto Rican market.
At the symposium, Jackson announced some restructuring of the Tourism Department. Long-time Los Angeles office manager Ludwig Harrigan will move to New York City to oversee all of the offices on the U.S. mainland, he said — those in New York, L.A., Miami, Atlanta and Chicago. The department also has offices Europe, Canada and San Juan. Some industry observers, including former Tourism commissioner-designate Michael Bornn, whose nomination was withdrawn by the governor last fall, believe it is cost-inefficient for the territory to maintain so many satellite offices in the era of Internet communication.
One of the first projects of the goverment's new advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather, is to develop a Tourism Department web site that Jackson said should be "up and running by October, if not sooner."
In mapping out his strategy for the department, Jackson said his biggest goal is to "recapture the market share that was lost in the past five years." He credited Assistant Commissioners Monique Sibilly-Hodge and Pamela Richards with "beginning the work" on many projects and said the hospitality industry "can expect great things from the territory in the months ahead."
In the Ogilvy & Mather presentation, managing director Ian Latham said the Virgin Islands is "still in the running as the best Caribbean product with a potential for significant growth." He said regional market research supports his view of a "bright future" in which the territory will progress well past competing tourist destinations.
Ogilvy representatives played the two Virgin Islands tourism destination television and radio commercials launched recently in several major U.S. markets. Both display scenes and descriptions of an island paradise. The tag line at the end of the ads has been changed from "They're your islands," used in the last few years, to "America's Caribbean." According to Jackson, the new line covers two important aspects being promoted: The Virgin Islands is both American and Caribbean.
The public relations effort on behalf of the territory was outlined by Amy Atkinson, a vice president for Martin Public Relations, the government's p.r. agency of several years' standing.
Many of the conference participants planned to travel to St. Croix for a one-on-one meeting with hotel operators on that island.

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At a day-long meeting of government authorities and private sector representatives of the travel industry Monday, V.I. officials renewed their commitment to revamping the territory's tourism product in the months ahead and to providing the financial support to advertise it.
Meantime, leaders of the St. Thomas-St.John Hotel and Tourism Association, which sponsored the gathering, outlined what is being accomplished in the marketing program it has gone ahead with on its own.
Gov. Charles Turnbull and Tourism Commissioner-designate Rafael Jackson were upbeat at the association's 7th annual Destination Symposium. A roomful of travel industry partners, travel writers and other tourism executives at the Renaissance Grand Beach Resort heard Jackson acknowledge that the industry locally "has room for improvement," then add that he is "committed to bringing it back on track."
Turnbull pledged the immediate release of $1.5 million to the Tourism Department for advertising. Government House spokesman James O'Bryan Jr. said later that the funds were from the consolidation of some "dormant accounts." O'Bryan, a special assistant to the governor, said the money was not from the Tourism Advertising Fund, which consists of revenues generated by the hotel occupancy tax. By law, that money is to be used only for tourism advertising, although it has often been diverted to other purposes.
In his presentation, Jackson said tourism in the Virgin Islands is on the rebound and he is optimistic about its future. "We are having one of the better seasons than we have had in years," he said.
Hotel and tourism association president Richard Doumeng and executive director Beverly Nicholson reported on the progress of the marketing program the organization has initiated on its own while waiting for Tourism policies, programs and funding to fall into place. A key element, they said, is the recently launched Cruise Ship Conversion Program aimed at attracting cruise passengers back to the territory as overnight visitors. There are also strategies to attract travel agents and to reach the Puerto Rican market.
At the symposium, Jackson announced some restructuring of the Tourism Department. Long-time Los Angeles office manager Ludwig Harrigan will move to New York City to oversee all of the offices on the U.S. mainland, he said -- those in New York, L.A., Miami, Atlanta and Chicago. The department also has offices Europe, Canada and San Juan. Some industry observers, including former Tourism commissioner-designate Michael Bornn, whose nomination was withdrawn by the governor last fall, believe it is cost-inefficient for the territory to maintain so many satellite offices in the era of Internet communication.
One of the first projects of the goverment's new advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather, is to develop a Tourism Department web site that Jackson said should be "up and running by October, if not sooner."
In mapping out his strategy for the department, Jackson said his biggest goal is to "recapture the market share that was lost in the past five years." He credited Assistant Commissioners Monique Sibilly-Hodge and Pamela Richards with "beginning the work" on many projects and said the hospitality industry "can expect great things from the territory in the months ahead."
In the Ogilvy & Mather presentation, managing director Ian Latham said the Virgin Islands is "still in the running as the best Caribbean product with a potential for significant growth." He said regional market research supports his view of a "bright future" in which the territory will progress well past competing tourist destinations.
Ogilvy representatives played the two Virgin Islands tourism destination television and radio commercials launched recently in several major U.S. markets. Both display scenes and descriptions of an island paradise. The tag line at the end of the ads has been changed from "They're your islands," used in the last few years, to "America's Caribbean." According to Jackson, the new line covers two important aspects being promoted: The Virgin Islands is both American and Caribbean.
The public relations effort on behalf of the territory was outlined by Amy Atkinson, a vice president for Martin Public Relations, the government's p.r. agency of several years' standing.
Many of the conference participants planned to travel to St. Croix for a one-on-one meeting with hotel operators on that island.