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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, July 15, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesHotel and Tourism Association Looks to a Brighter 2010

Hotel and Tourism Association Looks to a Brighter 2010

After a 2009 that has been disastrous for many destinations in the Caribbean, the U.S.V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association’s annual meeting Wednesday applauded the Department of Tourism for increasing airlift into the territory by 25 percent.
"Tourism is a staple of our economy," Gov. John de Jongh Jr. said in his keynote address to the association. While noting the positive airlift numbers, the governor also stressed the importance of solidifying relationships with other airlines, particularly low-cost carriers.
“We can control hotel growth and products,” deJongh said, pointing out the lack of hotel growth for 2009. “We have to figure out a way to grow further.”
In addition to airline and hotel industry, deJongh spoke about the recently created Marine Industries Council, and said that his administration is working on resolving some marine tourism-related customs issues, including the possibility of a visa waiver similar to a program in Guam.
During the meeting, members also voted in new officers, with Ritz-Carlton General Manager Mark Langevin chairing the organization.
Langevin lauded the efforts of past association chairman Richard Doumeng of the Bolongo Bay Beach Resort for leaving him with a well-run organization.
“I accepted the role because we are moving forward,” Langevin said. “There is a very good spirit. We are working to make all the islands better.”
Langevin highlighted the organization’s 2009 accomplishments, particularly those geared towards education.
For younger children, the organization has created an adoption program for the Boys and Girls Clubs in which a hotel takes on the meal program for each day of the week at the clubs.
For teenagers, the association is working with the high schools to promote hospitality as a career, including parents and teachers as well as students.
In addition, the association is working with newly installed UVI President David Hall to develop and support a college-level hospitality program.
For its own members, the association’s larger corporate hotels members are opening their doors to the same training for association members who are in lower-budget brackets that it has traditionally offered only to their own employees.
Langevin also highlighted the association’s efforts to have local beaches "Blue Flag certified," providing ammunition for marketing to environmentally-minded vacationers, as well as making for a cleaner environment for residents. A Blue Flag certification is a voluntary eco-label program for beaches and marinas, which got its start in Denmark.
Beaches and marinas that meet established guidelines—on everything from water-quality and safety to environmental management—are labeled “Blue Flag” certified by the Foundation for Environmental Education.
“If you are able to obtain Blue Flag it certifies that you are maintaining the highest eco-friendly standards for beaches and marinas,” said Lisa Hamilton, association president.
“There are only six countries in the Caribbean with a Blue Flag certification and we want to ensure that the U.S. Virgin Islands has a ‘leveragable’ distinction in the competitive Caribbean marketplace.”
The association also honored members of the V.I. Police Department, including Officer Alicia Chermont, Det. Sophia Rachid, Officer Kelvin Venzen and Cpl. Alvaris Julien for their service to the community.

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