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Tourism Promotion Already Paying Off In Bookings

March 24, 2009 — A $1.3 million marketing campaign by the Virgin Islands Department of Tourism is tempting potential visitors with a siren's song of savings including complimentary nights, a $300 air credit, $50 worth of certificates for attractions, a $50 dining certificate, and a coupon booklet valued at more than $500 to those who book the offer.
"Despite the current economic environment, we’re finding a desire to travel among potential visitors, provided they can take advantage of a high value offer," said Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty. "By extending this offer early in the season, we will maximize our opportunity to capture summer and fall business, while continuing our ongoing commitment to our industry partners."
The department is aggressively promoting the Virgin Islands, in the face of similar aggressive marketing from around the Caribbean.
A number of attractions are participating throughout the territory, including Cane Bay Dive Shop and Paul and Jill Equestrian Stables on St. Croix, Arawak Kayak Expeditions on St. John, and Coral World and St. Thomas Sky Ride to Paradise Point, and Avis Rent-a-Car on St. Thomas. More attractions and activities are being added as the promotions continue.
"The region as a whole is vying for the same travelers, so we have to stand out," said Chantal Figueroa, marketing director for the department. "We have made an aggressive offer and we have to promote the offer."
The domestic "Sizzlin’ Sampler" is valid for bookings made from March 15 to Oct. 15, 2009 (or until the $1.6 million financial commitment has been expended) for travel between April 15 and Oct. 31, 2009 and is based on a four-night minimum stay.
The package is already creating quite a sizzle, with almost 300 (approximately 1,400 room nights) sold in the first 96 hours, representing more than $400,000 in revenue for the V.I.
"The bookings are looking pretty good and we still have about a month and a half left to go. Things started to pick up after the election – our domestic bookings are picking up and we hope to have a strong summer as a result of the destination promotion," Fiqueroa said.
"Sizzlin’ Sampler" ads are being shown nationally via print and broadcast outlets and retail partnerships. A national radio campaign will debut in April, along with a TV advertising campaign starting in June. All advertising to support the offer will feature a call-to-action to book through one of the territory’s major airline partners.
A segment filmed on St. Thomas will also air on 157 stations on the CW network's "Daily Buzz," a popular national morning show. The department is also looking to European markets for visitors, in particular Italian and Scandinavian tourists.
The booking window for that campaign started in November for travel June 1 through September 30. The European packages are geared toward their typically longer vacations.
The international packages offer a fifth night free on one island and a 10th night for free if they decide to stay on a second island.
"If they do the 10-night booking we are also giving them a $50 dinner coupon so there is incentive to stay longer," Figueroa said.
Reservations for this promotion can be made through a number of tour operators, including Apple Vacations, BookIt.com, Certified Vacations Group, CheapCaribbean, Classic Vacations, Costco Travel, Enjoy Vacations, Expedia Inc., Island Resort Tours, Libgo Travel, The Mark Travel Corporation, MLT Vacations, Orbitz Worldwide, Pleasant Holidays, Total Vacations, Travel Impressions, Travelocity, US Airways Vacations and Vacation Express.
For more information go to VisitUSVI.com.

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