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HOTELIERS OUT TO ENTICE PUERTO RICAN TOURISTS

March 6, 2002 – The many virtues and vantages of the Virgin Islands will be touted to as many as a thousand Puerto Rican travel agents this weekend in the hope of capturing a part of the neighboring commonwealth's potentially profitable summer tourist business.
At a trade show in Bayamon, the association will be offering the agents a deal they may find hard to resist, Beverly Nicholson, executive director of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, said.
"We are unveiling a program exclusively for Puerto Rico travel agents — to spend two nights on St. Thomas or St. John in June to see the islands," she said.
"Traditionally, July, August and September are the high months here for Puerto Rico travel," she said. "There is a tremendous opportunity for off-season business from this market."
Travel agents and tour operators "provide both overnight and day-trip business to the territory," she said. "Many of our competitors actively pursue the Puerto Rico market. We want to ensure that we are getting our share of this lucrative market."
The trade show, Friday and Saturday at the Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum in Bayamon, is being sponsored by the Puerto Rican Society of Wholesale and Excursion Providers.
Joining Nicholson at the event will be representatives of Antilles Resorts, Bolongo Bay Beach Club and Villas, the Holiday Inn Windward Passage Hotel, Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort, the Westin St. John Resort and Wyndham Sugar Bay Beach Club and Resort, as well as owners of Sapphire and Cowpet Bay condominiums and other properties.
They'll take with them canvas bags for each of the agents, which will be filled with Virgin Islands promotional goodies and destination information, including the obligatory minature of Cruzan Rum, provided by the local distributor, Premier Wines and Spirits. At a Saturday luncheon, a gift basket filled with local shopping treats will be raffled off.
Nicholson said she didn't know if the Department of Tourism would be represented at the trade show. Calls to the department Wednesday afternoon were not returned.

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