CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands -- Gov. Charles Turnbull
announced that $1.5 million has been earmarked for additional
tourism advertising as part of the U.S. Virgin Islands' commitment
to revamping the territory's tourism industry.
The current ad campaign, a series of two radio and TV
commercials running in key U.S. markets, displays scenes of the
islands and carries the new tag line, "America's Caribbean."
The governor's announcement came during the seventh annual
Destination Symposium, sponsored by the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel
Association in late March.
The meeting brought together government authorities and travel
industry partners to assess the U.S. Virgin Island's tourism
Acting tourism commissioner Rafael Jackson acknowledged that
although tourism to the U.S. Virgin Islands "has declined over the
past five to six years, we are on the rebound and are having one of
our better seasons."
Jackson stressed that the industry is "committed to regaining
the market share that we have lost in our primary markets and to
protecting the flights that now serve the U.S. Virgin Islands."
One of the first projects will be the development of a Tourism
Department Web site.
Jackson said the site should be "up and running by October, if
There already is a site at www.usvi.net that was developed and funded by the
The new Web site will be government-sponsored and -funded and
will focus on all aspects of tourism in the U.S. Virgin Islands,
including the role played by travel agents.
Richard Doumeng, association president, and Beverly Nicholson,
executive director, described the marketing program initiated by
the hotel association.
A key element of the program is the recently launched year-round
Cruise Ship Conversion Program, aimed at attracting cruise
passengers to return to the territory as overnight visitors.
Doumeng said that booth space at the Virgin Islands Welcome
Center at the cruise ship pier in St. Thomas was donated by Ed
Thomas, chief executive officer of the West Indian Co., which
operates the pier.
Three kiosks on the walkways at the dock carry brochures on
hotels and attractions in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Arrows on the kiosks direct passengers to the Welcome Center
"We are trying to build our own database of potential overnight
visitors by having the cruise passengers fill out a sweepstakes
card with pertinent information that we can later use for mailings,
promotions and marketing," Doumeng said.
One card will be drawn each month, awarding a future trip to the
winner. Hotel accommodations will be donated by various properties
on a rotating basis.