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HomeNewsArchivesSTUDY: VALUE OF AIR SERVICES TO V.I. UNRECOGNIZED

STUDY: VALUE OF AIR SERVICES TO V.I. UNRECOGNIZED

May 30, 2003 – With the news this week that U.S. Airways is cutting almost all of its service to St. Croix as well as many flights to St. Thomas, public forums held on both islands to discuss the findings of a study on how to increase the volume of air visitors could not have been more timely.
The V.I. government-commissioned study was conducted by Edwards and Kelcey, a Washington, D.C., based consulting firm.
The first forum on the findings of the company's Air Services Marketing and Development study took place Wednesday on the University of the Virgin Islands St. Thomas campus. The second was Thursday on the St. Croix UVI campus.
In order to come up with possible solutions, the company scrutinized the global state of the airline industry, notably the after-effects of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the SAR epidemic now affecting travel worldwide.
The draft report issued by E&K stated three problems it observed:
– The economic importance of quality air services to the V.I. economy is not widely understood in the community.
– A comprehensive air services marketing strategy, fundamental to increasing air arrivals to the territory, has not been developed.
– There is no clear mandate from any island organization for the creation and management of an ongoing air services marketing and development program.
Even so, the company's study yielded many suggested solutions to problem of declining air arrivals and air service to the territory.
One was that "the Virgin Islands are three separate markets; let's promote them separately," Douglas Wilson, E&K senior aviation economist, said on Wednesday. "It is a case of one size not fitting all."
Wilson said his company's research found that this is the way airlines feel the Virgin Islands should be marketed.
He also said that while St. Thomas is a "mature destination," St. Croix has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, he said, a lot of things dissuade people from traveling to St. Croix — such as the perception of high crime.
The E&K draft proposal includes a short-term action plan that could be implemented starting as early as one month from now. There is also a six-month plan and a three-year plan. The one-month plan includes seeking federal assistance for a Small Community Air Service Development pilot program and developing incentives for airlines to operate in the territory.
About 20 people — mainly government officials — attended the Wednesday forum. Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards commented that the E&K researchers "were able to come down here, speak to all of us, get us into perspective, and come back and put together a program that pretty much said things we know are true, re-enforced things that we are doing, and brought us up to deal with things that we have to take care of."
UVI was asked by the 24th Legislature to contract a mainland consulting company with expertise in the national transportation field to develop a strategy and plan to increase the territory's airline arrivals. It selected E&K.
The plan presented on both campuses is a draft subject to revision incorporating suggestions from the two forums.
For the views of one longtime St. Croix business leader — who was involved in the selection of the E&K as the consultant — about the study and his island's airlift problems, see the Op-ed article "St. Croix can be marketed, and here's how".)
The draft plan summary, technical report and appendices can be accessed from the UVI Web site's "News Releases" section. Click on the appropriate line in the blue box to the right of the first paragraph of the article to access the portion you want to read.

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May 30, 2003 - With the news this week that U.S. Airways is cutting almost all of its service to St. Croix as well as many flights to St. Thomas, public forums held on both islands to discuss the findings of a study on how to increase the volume of air visitors could not have been more timely.
The V.I. government-commissioned study was conducted by Edwards and Kelcey, a Washington, D.C., based consulting firm.
The first forum on the findings of the company's Air Services Marketing and Development study took place Wednesday on the University of the Virgin Islands St. Thomas campus. The second was Thursday on the St. Croix UVI campus.
In order to come up with possible solutions, the company scrutinized the global state of the airline industry, notably the after-effects of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the SAR epidemic now affecting travel worldwide.
The draft report issued by E&K stated three problems it observed:
- The economic importance of quality air services to the V.I. economy is not widely understood in the community.
- A comprehensive air services marketing strategy, fundamental to increasing air arrivals to the territory, has not been developed.
- There is no clear mandate from any island organization for the creation and management of an ongoing air services marketing and development program.
Even so, the company's study yielded many suggested solutions to problem of declining air arrivals and air service to the territory.
One was that "the Virgin Islands are three separate markets; let's promote them separately," Douglas Wilson, E&K senior aviation economist, said on Wednesday. "It is a case of one size not fitting all."
Wilson said his company's research found that this is the way airlines feel the Virgin Islands should be marketed.
He also said that while St. Thomas is a "mature destination," St. Croix has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, he said, a lot of things dissuade people from traveling to St. Croix -- such as the perception of high crime.
The E&K draft proposal includes a short-term action plan that could be implemented starting as early as one month from now. There is also a six-month plan and a three-year plan. The one-month plan includes seeking federal assistance for a Small Community Air Service Development pilot program and developing incentives for airlines to operate in the territory.
About 20 people -- mainly government officials -- attended the Wednesday forum. Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards commented that the E&K researchers "were able to come down here, speak to all of us, get us into perspective, and come back and put together a program that pretty much said things we know are true, re-enforced things that we are doing, and brought us up to deal with things that we have to take care of."
UVI was asked by the 24th Legislature to contract a mainland consulting company with expertise in the national transportation field to develop a strategy and plan to increase the territory's airline arrivals. It selected E&K.
The plan presented on both campuses is a draft subject to revision incorporating suggestions from the two forums.
For the views of one longtime St. Croix business leader -- who was involved in the selection of the E&K as the consultant -- about the study and his island's airlift problems, see the Op-ed article "St. Croix can be marketed, and here's how".)
The draft plan summary, technical report and appendices can be accessed from the UVI Web site's "News Releases" section. Click on the appropriate line in the blue box to the right of the first paragraph of the article to access the portion you want to read.

Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much -- and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice ... click here.