80.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, May 23, 2024


Like others in St. Thomas, we are delighted that Sinbad has chosen our island for his highly successful Soul Music Festival this Memorial Day weekend. It should provide a big — though brief — boost to the slow summer season and an opportunity to sell many first-time visitors on returning in the future.
To make this five-day festival a success, everyone in St. Thomas has to give it top priority — and generally it appears that is happening, though nothing yet is visible in the clean-up/fix-up department.
But we cannot give the Sinbad festival exclusive priority.
What, for instance, is being done to advertise and promote the islands during that slow summer season we spoke of? Or put another way, is anything being done?
Hoteliers and merchants say the summer looks dismal. Cruise ship calls are down — they're always down in the summer but this year looks even worse than usual — and hotel bookings are meager. Some business people say privately that many stores in St. Thomas will close their doors unless business picks up.
The only way business will pick up in any meaningful way is if we begin to promote and advertise these islands.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull has pledged to put the entire 8 percent hotel occupany tax into advertising, but is that being done? If it is being done, how much money is in that fund? More importantly, what promotional plan has been drawn up to entice people to spend their summer vacations here where the tradewinds still blow, the amenities are unbeatable and special package deals can be put together?
If the Tourism Department has such a plan, the public needs to know about it. If it doesn't have one, that needs to be made public too — and the department needs to pull a plan together quickly.
It is almost April. Ads of this nature need to be placed well in advance. If we don't move now, the summer will be over before we get our act together.

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