The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism is reaching out to the African-American market.
USVI Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson Doty visited Philadelphia and New York this week to highlight the importance of the African-American market and the Northeast region to the territory. During her visit, Nicholson Doty met with travel agents and representatives from U.S. Airways, which offers direct airline service to the USVI.
“It’s really important for us get out to the travel agent community and consumers to make that connection in terms of how important the region is to us,” Nicholson Doty said during an editorial board meeting with the Tribune.
“It’s really important to touch the marketplace.”
Every year, approximately 100,000 travelers from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut visit the territory.
Nicholson Doty says a growing number of African Americans are traveling from this region.
She noted that the African-American traveler is an important part of the destination’s marketing strategy.
Last summer, the tourism department formed a communications alliance with the National Association of Black Journalists to attract African Americans to the territory.
Representatives from the tourism department are hosting a VI marketing blitz on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the King of Prussia Mall, Lower Level Court.
The event is being held to encourage travelers to visit the islands of St Croix, St. John and St. Thomas — known for their pristine waters and duty-free shopping.
“People will get the sounds and experience of the islands. It gives them the feel of the islands and spurs them to talk to their travel agent to make their vacation plans,” said Nicholson Doty, who oversees the USVI tourism department’s national and international tourism efforts.
Participants will have the opportunity to enter for a chance to win a trip for two to the USVI in partnership with US Airways.
The marketing push comes as visitors from the U.S. account for 93 percent of the territory’s tourism business. According to Nicholson Doty, about 1.6 million people visit the islands yearly.
The USVI is now home to some new attractions. In January, the Magic Ice Gallery opened in downtown St. Thomas — featuring clear ice sculptures, an ice slide for children and an ice bar.
“To tour this gallery is an educational and inspirational experience — one that will be a must-stop attraction for the thousands of tourists that come to our islands every week. While we have no shortage of unique attractions here on St. Thomas, Magic Ice may just be the most unique and unexpected of them all, and those who return to the Virgin Islands year after year will eagerly anticipate visiting this gallery on their next vacation,” VI Governor John de Jongh said during the gallery’s opening.
The Diageo rum distillery on St. Croix is gearing up for the April grand opening of the $5 million Captain Morgan visitor center. Visitors will be able to learn about the history of Captain Morgan Rum, see how rum is made and tour the plant.
Nicholson Doty recently lauded President Barack Obama’s executive order announcing a suite of initiatives to significantly increase travel and tourism in the U.S. as “not only a major step forward for the world’s biggest travel and tourism economy, but it is also an opportunity for our territory to look at how we might harvest the new opportunities arising from the president’s bold initiative.”