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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, June 27, 2022


A proposal from GoGo Worldwide Tours to get the territory's tourist season on its feet is now in place, with ads expected to start in The New York Times in the first half of February.
Richard Doumeng, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, was ecstatic about the anxiously awaited decision by the government to go with the plan. "I teased the governor," Doumeng said. "I told him if it was the previous administration, this would be cause for a champagne press conference."
The $750,000 campaign is being funded by the Tourism Department, the St. Thomas-St. John and St. Croix hotel associations, American Airlines, Continental Airlines, and GoGo itself. GoGo is the largest tour operator in the Caribbean, handling 80 percent of all travel.
The government put up $300,000 at first, but then added $154,000 more. Doumeng commended the efforts of Monique Sibilly-Hodge, acting Tourism commissioner, in securing the funding. Sibilly-Hodge was present at a recent meeting with GoGo vice president Bob Lawrence and other hospitality representatives and had worked on developing the marketing plan.
Doumeng said the additional Tourism funding means the other partners are upping their contributions, too, as it is a cooperative plan worked out on a percentage basis from all parties. "This is the best team effort since Turnbull took office," Doumeng said, adding that it has turned out "even better than I hoped."
Asked if the government's contribution came from the Tourism Revolving Fund, Doumeng said, "I have no idea, and I don't care." He said he is "just happy that we got it." Calls to the Tourism Department seeking clarification had not been returned by the time of posting this story.
The campaign is targeting the U.S. Northeast, the territory's core tourism market, with a series of newspaper ads in area papers including The Hartford Courant. Doumeng said he is hopeful that the first ad in The New York Times will appear Feb. 13.
Doumeng and other V.I. hospitality industry representatives are off to Paradise Island, Bahamas, this weekend to attend annual Caribbean Hotel Association Marketplace, the largest conference of its kind in the region. About 3,000 delegates are expected to take part.
"With the GoGo proposal in place," Doumeng said, "we now have something positive to bring to the table."

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