80.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, June 12, 2024


June 1, 2002 – With fresh green paint newly dried on the door and trim, the little cottage in the garden in Cruz Bay is taking on an old familiar look as the home of the St. John Tourism Bureau.
Moving day came during May's Tourism Week. Two weeks later, senior tourism representative Cindy Jurgens was still hanging pictures and settling in. "I'm glad to be back, although I've got to get my place fixed," she said.
A local dollmaker stepped in to admire the gleaming floor tiles and pick up a vendor application for the St. John Festival Food Fair. Minutes later, in popped a pair of visitors seeking information about a snorkel tour. A few minutes more, and a couple of shoppers came in to ask directions. Jurgens deftly pulled out a map and drew a curlicue arrow from a spot she marked "You Are Here."
"I was a little busy," she said afterward, and she expects things to be that way through the "slow" summer months, with one of the island's two major resorts booked steadily through August.
Jurgens says the foot traffic is about the same as it was when the bureau was next door, but she is glad to be back in the spot where the meeting, greeting and pointing directions was done for so many years in Cruz Bay. The Tourism office and the surrounding pocket park are popular with residents seeking a midday oasis in the middle of town.
The Tourism bureau returned to its old location after the U.S. Postal Service lost its bid to take over the space for expansion of the neighboring Cruz Bay Post Office. News of the plans to convert the garden spot into a mail depot and concerns for the fate of trees at the site prompted local protests. Meanwhile, Tourism moved next door to a temporary space in the Morris F. de Castro Clinic, where Jurgens set out the welcome mat.
Now moved back home after workers rid the clapboard cottage of termites, splashed around some fresh paint and spruced up the picnic benches under the spreading ironwood tree. A retired grocer used to come around in the mornings to rake the fallen leaves and pick out the beer bottles deposited overnight behind his manicured shrubs. But the slower pace of senior citizenship has kept him home these days, leaving the pocket park's upkeep in the hands of the St. John administrator and his staff.
The bureau and the garden serve as a scenic way station for locals and travelers to relax at one of the picnic tables or stop in to soak up some air conditioning while checking out the latest Virgin Islands travel posters up on the wall. In a few months, visitors arriving on island or about to leave will be able to check their luggage at the bureau temporarily to take in the town's attractions before heading on to their next destination. Jurgens hopes to have that service in operation for the winter tourist season.
Believing that hospitality is one of her island's main attractions, Jurgens organizes cultural mini-fairs for visitors from time to time. The most recent one was held around the corner in Cruz Bay Park during Tourism Week. Things are expected to be fairly quiet for a few weeks now as the community gears up for the St. John Festival. The folks who serve vacationers take vacations, too, and Jurgens says she hopes to take a break and come back with some fresh ideas for making the island's visitors feel right at home.

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