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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, December 1, 2023


Beverly Nicholson, executive director of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, is being touted by a pair of tourism organizations to become the next tourism commissioner.
"The fact is we have someone who is qualified to be commissioner of Tourism who lives on this island and who has worked in the industry," St. Thomas Hotel Association President Richard Doumeng said. "Beverly is known from Savan to Spain. People know her and respect her."
"Beverly is absolutely the best person I know of," Doumeng said, adding he is not campaigning for Nicholson but thinks Gov. Charles W. Turnbull would be wise to appoint her.
Nicholson also has strong support from the St. Croix Hotel Association. The group's president, Peter Ross, has sent a letter to Turnbull recommending Nicholson for the position.
"We need someone in charge who has a lot of experience, who can hit the ground running and who is familiar with our travel partners," Ross said Friday. "Beverly is the most experienced person we have. She's known to people in the travel industry both within and outside the territory."
Government House did not respond to phone messages Friday asking if Turnbull had a comment on Nicholson or if he was preparing to nominate a permanent commissioner.
Doumeng said more than any other Cabinet position, the Tourism post needs to be filled permanently.
"No commissionership is more impacted by an acting status than Tourism, because the Tourism commissioner is the person with the most contact with the outside world," he said. "There is something to say for consistency, continuity and reputation."
Nicholson has been executive director of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association for seven years. According to several sources, she was considered for the commissioner's post when Turnbull was assembling his Cabinet last winter. She could not be reached for comment Friday because she is off-island.
"In addition," Doumeng said, "Beverly happens to be a native Virgin Islander with roots on St. Croix and St. Thomas."
An effective and permanent Tourism commissioner is crucial because the local industry now has a strong chance to rebound from recent lulls, Ross said.
"There's a lot of potential for increased activity. A lot of charter airlines are interested in coming, a lot of major airline carriers are interested and a lot of regional carriers are interested," he said. "But these are narrow windows of opportunity and they open and close quickly."
Earlier this year United Airlines announced it would begin flying to the territory from Chicago and Washington, D.C. Soon after, Continental Airlines publicly expressed its interest in resuming flights from Newark to the Virgin Islands.
TWA is also considering a return to the territory, according to Tourism sources.
The top Tourism post opened when the Legislature rejected Turnbull nominee Clement "Cain" Magras earlier this month. Magras was defeated by a coalition of all seven St. Croix senators and at-large Sen. Almando "Rocky" Liburd because they felt Magras wasn't doing enough to promote the big island.
During Magras' first confirmation appearance before the Legislature, his confirmation was held for 30 days when a St. Croix Tourism employee filed a sexual harassment complaint against him. Those charges are still pending.
Assistant Tourism Commissioner Monique Sibilly-Hodge has been acting commissioner since Magras' departure.
Doumeng said Turnbull should make a permanent nomination to ensure a resurgence in tourism.
"The pendulum is definitely swinging back our way," Doumeng said. "And there are just so many opportunities that need to be addressed."

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