ROAD TOWN -- Kedrick Malone, the recently appointed director of the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board, is not letting any sand stay beneath his feet.

With less than six weeks under his belt as new director, Malone already is busy formulating plans, updating his staff and setting goals.

The B.V.I., which launched its own Web site last fall at www.bvitouristboard.com, experienced far less of a downturn in business following Sept. 11 than other destinations, Malone said.

"The B.V.I. held up better this winter than market circumstances allowed other destinations," he said.

Malone attributed this to the recognition of the B.V.I. as a water-oriented destination and as a high-end property locale.

The B.V.I., which already had identified and targeted its 13 core markets before last fall's traffic fallout, "will now move our marketing to new heights," Malone said.

He noted that the face of travel has changed in the post-Sept. 11 period. "Our job is to make sure that we still reach our target markets," he said.

To achieve that goal, Malone said he will utilize the tourist board's organizational structure, marketing and product excellence.

He also said he aims to emphasize the B.V.I.'s historical sites, plantations, history, culture and its small properties. "We also want to take advantage of the role that technology plays in effective marketing," he said.

Staff training and service are critical to the success of the B.V.I. as a vacation destination, according to Malone. "What we want our visitors to experience is delivery of a quality product in all its aspects," he said.

Malone stressed the need for the Caribbean region as a whole to step up to the plate and capitalize on the changing travel topography in the post-Sept. 11 world.

"As a region, we are safe and close, and this is what most travelers want right now," he said. "It is up to us in the Caribbean to follow through on that message."

In the hotel arena, Malone said no new hotels are scheduled for the islands at this time, although he plans to focus attention and marketing on many of the destination's existing smaller properties.

"Bookings through June are solid, but there is a pattern of short-term bookings which makes it difficult to forecast more than a few weeks out," he said.

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