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Virgin Islands Tops Lonely Planet Top 10

The U.S. Virgin Islands was ranked number one on Lonely Planet’s list of the Top 10 US travel destinations for 2012, a publication aimed at an audience with an adventurous nature.

“To have such a distinguished organization sing our praises is an honor,” Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty said in a press release. “The Lonely Planet editors hit the nail on the head in recognizing the affordability and range of vacation experiences we offer travelers visiting St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas. It’s proof that our key messages are being delivered in our ongoing media relations efforts.”

The slide show that accompanies the Lonely Planet article on the Top 10 includes an iconic photo of Trunk Bay.

The territory was followed by the Hudson River Valley in New York, Cincinnati, Ohio, the Four Corners Region of in the Southwest, the island of Culebra in Puerto Rico, the California Gold Country, Boulder, Col., the Hawaiian island of Hawaii, Chicago, and Yellowstone National Park.

Lonely Planet stated in the Top 10 article that “in a year when travelers are apt to still be watching their wallets, this is our #1 choice for an American tropical getaway. It’s eternally 80 degrees, rimmed with white-sand beaches on turquoise water, and, yes, it’s a US territory. Each of the US Virgin Islands has their own identity: if you want a break from resorts, St John is nearly two-thirds a lush national park with tent cabins amid trees and hikes to secluded beaches – this sadly may be the last year for the Maho Bay Camps, a long-standing eco-resort which is the place to stay if you’re watching your budget; or try the St John Inn which offers great-value rooms with kitchenettes. For more action, the previously inaccessible Hassel Island, now part of Virgin Islands National Park (St Thomas), can be explored by snorkel or kayak. And word is that the Captain Morgan Rum Distillery on St. Croix will open its new visitor center in spring 2012 – ahoy!”

Liza Aponte, the general manager at St. John Inn, was delighted at the mention of the small guest house located in Cruz Bay.

“We don’t have a large advertising budget. It’s important to have good word of mouth from guests and referrals,” she said.

Maho Bay Camps manager Scott Drennan called the mention of Maho “huge.”

“To have Maho Bay listed for people on a budget is great,” he said.

He added that any business could use a leg up like this one.

V.I. National Park Superintendent Mark Hardgrove said the park is currently working on ways to transport people to Hassel Island. He said that most likely it will be a commercial operation. While the island is open, Hardgrove said it is not staffed because there’s currently no money in the budget for it. He said that Hassel Island will hopefully be fully operational with transportation sometime in 2013.

As for its mention on the Lonely Planet list, he said it was a boon for tourism because it will “refresh” tourism opportunities in the downtown Charlotte Amalie area.

According to the press release, Lonely Planet compiles a list of the best places to visit in the United States for the upcoming year based on recommendations from the organization’s editorial team. The editors make their selections based on what’s new, interesting, up-and-coming, or likely to be overlooked by travelers in various cities and destinations across the United States.

To view the list and article see: www.lonelyplanet.com. The site receives more than 10 million unique monthly visitors from around the world.

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