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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, June 5, 2023
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Group's Activity Promotes 'Voluntourism'

June 25, 2009 – Thursday morning, as the heat of the day was just settling in, a group of tourists gathered at the Jane E. Tuitt School’s basketball court. They weren’t there to take pictures or to request a frozen drink.
They were there to work.
It was a scene a lot of people who are very interested in promoting island tourism hope to see much more often.
Judy Nagelberg said she had the idea last year to mix tourism with volunteerism, thus creating a hybrid creature she calls "voluntourism." The idea came to her when she worked with Habitat for Humanity to build a ramp for a local family with a disabled child. Nagelberg is president of Island Meetings and Incentives, Inc., a group specializing in helping large groups plan their Virgin Islands trips.
She said the event prompted her to have an “a-ha” moment.
“The look on their faces struck me,” she said. “I realized this is something I should be spending my time promoting – volunteerism.”
Nagelberg said it’s a good way companies can reward their employees, even in a time where such rewards are frowned on.
“It’s guilt-free,” she said. “Just think if AIG had done this instead of going to a spa.”
And so, on the basketball court, groups of meetings planners and meetings trade journalists – the people who will take their experiences here and sell them to companies looking to travel to the islands — worked alongside boys from the Savan Boy’s Club, and other locals who had volunteered their time.
To prepare for today’s event, the boys worked tirelessly to pick up all the trash that had been littering the area. Today, they painted along with the tourists.
Kim Moholland and his crew from Bay Painters volunteered to help with the event. They primed all the areas of the court that were to be painted – all free of charge, on their own time.
“It’s so rewarding,” said Moholland, who is also a member of the United Way. “It’s great for the community to get everyone involved. We are happy to help out.”
“My grandmother used to say that many hands make light work,” said Commissioner of the USVI Department of Tourism Beverly Nicholson Doty.
She said that more and more people are saying they don’t want just a vacation — they want to feel as though they have accomplished something. This is an opportunity for people to do both.
Nicholson Doty said groups from companies make up between 15 to 20 percent of Virgin Islands tourism. She said she didn’t foresee the department changing the way they market the islands, but that “voluntourism” is a segment of the industry they hope to look into more and more.

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