CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Thomas -- In an effort to build incremental business during a traditionally slack period, the U.S. Virgin Islands will launch its Fall Into America's Caribbean promotion for the September-to-December period.

Beverly Nicholson, executive director of the St. Thomas/St. John Hotel & Tourism Association, said the aim is "to build incremental business during the off season -- to tap those visitors who initially might not be planning a trip but are motivated by the package incentives and prices."

Nicholson also said that hoteliers want to ride the crest of what they describe as "a decent summer."

Although they reported a decrease in the actual number of bookings this summer over last, occupancy levels are up by 10% to 15%, according to Nicholson.

"The fall promotion is, in some ways, an extension of our Summer Bucket of Savings promotion that was extended through the end of August," she said.

"However, our fall program has a new incentive that specifically targets St. Croix. Visitors who book the fall program and return in 2004 will be entitled to a room credit or discounted rate at St. Croix hotels."

The fall promotion must be booked through a participating tour operator between Sept. 1 and Dec. 15 for travel between Oct. 1 and Jan. 10.

Operators include Apple Vacations, Certified Vacations, Gogo Worldwide Vacations, Inter Island Tours, Island Resort Tours and Travel Impressions.

The territory offered a similar promotion after 9/11, but it did not have as many hotel participants (20 properties on the three islands are participating this fall) nor did it feature as many value-added incentives.

Incentives include an additional night's lodging when travelers book a minimum four-night stay; a booklet of coupons worth more than $1,000 at local restaurants, visitor attractions, shops and other venues; and a $100 American Express Travelers Check.

Program details can be viewed at the association's Web site at www.sttstjhta.com.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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