76.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, November 30, 2023


As I'm sure most of you can imagine, the past month has been very hectic for me as I settle down to business as acting commissioner of the Department of Tourism.
I have spent much of my time recently meeting with public- and private-sector members of the U.S.V.I.'s tourism industry. The enthusiasm and dedication they have shared with me has been heartening.
It's quite obvious that Virgin Islanders – including me – feel very passionately about our beautiful home and its many offerings for visitors and locals. I'm thrilled to be working with Gov. Turnbull and Lt. Gov. James to help them lead the territory's tourism efforts as we head into the new millennium.
After only days in my new position for the Department of Tourism, I joined Gov. Turnbull and several U.S.V.I. representatives in attending the annual Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) Marketplace in San Juan. While there, the U.S.V.I. hosted a reception for our travel industry partners and national media which was a huge success and received raves from all in attendance.
Throughout my time at the conference, travel journalists, wholesalers and other travel industry leaders made sure to tell me about their admiration, respect and enthusiasm for the U.S.V.I. and its change in leadership. Tho trip provided a successful kick-off to the Turnbull administration's tourism efforts.
Unfortunately, the American Airlines labor dispute during the crucial Valentine's Day/Presidents' Day weekend temporarily slowed the momentum that our tourism industry had begun to recently build.
The obvious economic loss was a short~term setback to the territory. However, the Department of Tourism worked hard to stay in constant contact with the national news and travel media throughout the airline crisis. We were able to get word out that, despite the airline difficulties, the U.S.V.I. was ready and waiting for visitors. I've always said every cloud has a silver lining and ours was the opportunity to keep the U.S.V.I. in consumers' minds as a much-desired vacation destination during this frustrating time.
For the past few weeks, the Turnbull administration has spent much time negotiating with Sinbad and his representatives to bring the comedian's annual Soul Music Festival to the U.S.V.I. Hosting this popular festival will be an incredible publicity opportunity for the territory. The event could draw 12,000 visitors to the U.S.V.I. during Memorial Day Weekend and pour an estimated $20 million into the territory.
I must extend a special thanks to the wonderful staff in the Department of Tourism who have worked so hard to make the Soul Music Festival a reality for St. Thomas. Without their tireless dedication, the territory would not be able to host this exciting event.
Positive media coverage of the territory continues to reach record highs as the results of the department's public relations efforts continue to appear in dozens of national newspapers and magazines around the country.
Just since December 1998, more than 75 million print media impressions have been recorded including articles in USA Today, The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. Don't miss the March issue of Caribbean Travel & Life which features a wonderful article about hiking and historic walks on St. Croix and St. John. During the month of January, three advertorials devoted to the U.S.V.I. ran in Sunday editions of the Newark Star-Ledger.
Coverage such as this is vital as we continue to entice travelers to our white sand shores. (Comprehensive print media reports are available for viewing at the territory's hotel associations, chambers of commerce and tourism offices.
The department's efforts are also paying off on television screens throughout the United State.. Virgin Islanders should be on the lookout for our white sand shores on The Travel Channel this month. Episodes of Meshach Taylor's Hidden Caribbean featuring the U.S.V.I. will be rerun on March 7, 14, 21 and April 2.
The culture and heritage of our islands continue to be showcased on Travelers which was originally shown on The Discovery Channel, but now airs in repeats on The Travel Channel. The U.S.V.I. will also be featured in an upcoming episode of Travels in Mexico and the Caribbean with Sherri Belafonte which will air nationwide on public television in April.
As you can see, the Department of Tourism is extremely busy promoting St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas. I plan to update Virgin Islanders periodically about some of what we do in the department to keep the territory top-of-mind with travelers and the travel industry.
Kudos go to those in the private and public sectors who continue their diligent efforts to make the U.S.V.I. one of the world's most popular warm-weather destinations. Keep up the good work!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.