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FYI FROM SEN. RENEE

The following material is being published, unedited, exactly as it was received via e-mail from the office of the government official named, as a Source community service. Government office holders wishing to contribute to the FYI bulletin board must e-mail source@viaccess.net. The Source reserves the right to choose what is published.
November 5, 2003
A New View of Tourism For St. Croix
Given the financial crisis that we face, I contend that a result-focused approach to economic and social development, particularly in the area of tourism, of our territory is the way to go. Plans, programs, reports, studies, statistics and conferences will all be totally useless if at the end of the day, we can't produce the tourist arrivals and the income that flows therefrom. We must be totally committed to tourism development.
Tourism is seen as the one economic activity that augurs well in ushering in revenues with or without too much investment in the short-run. That the industry is critical to the survival of our economy is readily observable by looking at its impact on the St. Thomas economy. But the same cannot be said for St. Croix, because St. Croix needs a different approach.
Hoteliers, guesthouse operators, taxi drivers, car rental agencies and other players in the tourist industry on St. Croix are crying out at the death of the tourism industry on St. Croix.
Every island in the Caribbean is finding some thing to make its tourism product more attractive. St. Lucia has tapped into a marketing goldmine with its annual Jazz Festival with corporate sponsorship from BET, Air Jamaica, Caribbean Star and others. Dominica is fast developing its own "Creole Music Festival". St. Croix must find its niche.
There are few places in the Caribbean that has the mix and diversity of cultures that exist on St. Croix. We need to take advantage of this situation. We cannot ignore what already exists on our island while the industry burns to ashes.
The Cruise Ships will not be visiting us in any large numbers any time soon. We need to find other ways and means to bring people to St. Croix. We need to take proper steps to restore some hope to the industry instead of us remaining clueless. We must begin somewhere.
We need to market St. Croix to other Caribbean Islands and the Latin American regions. We need to place a significant and concentrated thrust in this direction. The other Caribbean Islands are aggressively marketing their islands to us as destinations for their major events.
Anguilla, St. Lucia, Dominica are all over our local media selling their tourism product to us, and we are buying. But are we putting enough effort into trying to sell to them? Surely we cannot only consider tourist to be people from North America and Europe.
Recent successes in events held on St. Croix have further convinced me that we have major events to sell to the region. We can sell a "Caribbean Cultural Festival". We can sell a "Latin Festival". Let us put together four major events in addition to our annual Christmas Festival to market and sell to the region.
Once that takes root, North American tourist will soon realize that to see Caribbean and Latin cultures at their best they can come to St. Croix on an annual basis. At a minimum cost to government, gross receipts taxes will increase, visitors will put in new money into the economy and vendors will earn some dollars.
Our name will finally be out there for something different. These are ways in which we can work the tourism product. It will take some selling, but the overall direct and indirect benefits are tremendous.
Senator Luther F. Renee
25th Legislature of the Virgin Islands

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