85.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, June 20, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesTourism Steps Up Marketing

Tourism Steps Up Marketing

With the closure of St. Croix’s Hovensa oil refinery looming, the V.I. Tourism Department announced plans to expand on programs already in place in hopes of increasing tourism to the territory, and in particular, to St. Croix, a press release issued Thursday indicated. The programs will target travelers, industry partners, travel agents, and the media.

At least two St. Croix residents involved in the tourism industry are hopeful it will help.

Adele Burkhardt, who owns the three-unit Villa Margarita guest house near Salt River, hopes that the advertising will focus not only on large properties that can be booked through online travel agencies like Expedia, but on small places like hers. She said Tourism’s summer and fall’s dive promotion was great for her guest house. Additionally, Tourism’s Intimate Treasures promotion is a boon.

“The promotion is good for the island,” she said, noting that add-ons like dining coupons direct visitors to restaurants they may not normally frequent.

Paul Wojciehowski, who with his wife, Jill Hurd, owns Paul and Jill’s Equestrian Stables in Frederiksted, said that any advertising will help.

However, like many across the territory, he said he is concerned about the cost of things like electricity, gas, and diesel rising with Hovensa gone. He said his electric bill runs about $1,200 a month with some months as high as $1,300.

“I don’t know whether we will be able to increase prices. We’ll have to eat it or pass it on, but we’ll see,” he said.

According to the press release, Tourism continues to roll out national and regional advertising. On Jan. 21, $325,000 worth of television ads began airing on CNN and Headline News Network. A total of $350,000 was funneled into the Boston market from Nov. 1 to Jan. 16 in the form of spot TV, newspaper, and airport advertisements. In early February, $130,000 will be committed to the Philadelphia region with a focus on spot radio, news/traffic radio, newspaper, and mall branding.

Tourism spokesman Allegra Kean Moorehead explained that the department “takes over” the mall by placing advertisements around the mall.

“By the elevator, the escalator, in store windows,” she said, ticking off possible places for ads.

Additionally, $504,000 was dedicated to St. Croix-focused advertising between Oct. 1 and Dec, 31, which resulted in 41 million impressions.

“It’s an estimate of how many people the ad is reaching,” Moorehead said, explaining the advertising meaning of impressions.

Earlier this month, Tourism launched a new offer to promote bookings for non-stop service from Boston on JetBlue and American Airlines. Valid for travel through April 8, the Winter USVI Getaway offers travelers a savings of $400 on bookings of five nights or more at over 25 participating hotels. The Winter USVI Getaway has a dedicated advertising campaign, including television ads, as well as ads on-board JetBlue flights. Print advertisements are appearing in the Boston Globe throughout January, and advertising through American Express Vacations is further publicizing the offer.

Tourism continues to contact the airlines that fly to the territory to discuss their commitment and airlift into the territory. Air Canada introduced a new weekly service from Toronto to St. Thomas in December. That same month, JetBlue also began flights from Boston to St. Thomas five times a week, as well as service from San Juan, Puerto Rico to St. Thomas and St. Croix. In October, Bravo Tours began a direct charter service to St. Croix with connecting flights to St. Thomas.

These new routes are expected to increase visitor arrivals, as they represent a 15 percent increase in air capacity year-over-year. Additionally, commuter providers, such as Cape Air and Seaborne Airlines, provide added service between the islands and to Puerto Rico, making for easier inter-island travel.

The press release indicates Tourism plans to launch additional efforts to reach out to traditional travel and lifestyle media to ensure the territory continues to receive extensive coverage in key outlets that will most influence travelers’ decisions this year. Increased radio promotions in top feeder markets, television giveaways, media partnerships, consumer promotions, and social media contests are all underway in response to the Hovensa oil refinery closure.

As 2012 begins, the territory has already secured top accolades. It is ranked the number one destination on Lonely Planet’s list of Top 10 U.S. travel destinations for 2012. U.S. News & World Report also selected the Virgin Islands as one of the “Best Destinations in the USA” in the magazine’s first-ever “Best Vacations” rankings.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.