US Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association
USVIHTA representatives met with the USVI Department of Tourism in November to discuss updates and progress. Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty discussed the department’s budget moving forward. At the time, more than 70 percent of hotels/rooms are not operational, and several are housing relief workers who are not paying room taxes. The budget for 2018 has therefore seen a significant reduction.
Additionally, the DOT has pulled fourth quarter advertisements in order to restructure. The department has adjusted their slogan from “Real Nice” to “Still Nice” and plans to move forward with a robust social media strategy using only post-hurricane imagery. The department also discussed current booking strategies as hotels do not want third-party bookings at the time.
The department is currently planning for 150 day increments as the economy is in flux and strategies will need constant re-evaluation. To this end, the DOT encouraged members to continue reporting updates on their status using the Google Doc form on usviupdate.com. The department will continue to issue updates every ten days going forward. The usviupdate.com page will also continue to evolve as it previously has never been used in this capacity for this amount of time. The page currently has 150,000 visitors with 58 percent return users, so they plan to use this exposure to drive tourism traffic.
Currently, cruise traffic is 90 percent operational, with a goal of 100 percent by January. Royal Caribbean has invested over $1 million to recover Magens Bay. Nicholson-Doty also meet with American Airlines, Delta Airlines and JetBlue to gives updates. USVIHTA representatives also received an update on the status of the airports.
During the first quarter of 2018, the DOT will attend several tradeshows, allowing exposure on an international level. The department is also considering organizing a FAM after the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association Marketplace event in January 2018.
Visit the link, http://bit.ly/2Ai1ZJG, to see current updates from the DOT for the week leading up to Nov. 27. The department will continue to compile updates on an ongoing basis. Please remember to share your updates at usviupdate.com.