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Friday, February 3, 2023


Oct. 3, 2001 – The V.I. government announced plans Wednesday to launch a $6.5 million advertising and marketing campaign to promote tourism in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks last month.
The new campaign will be in addition to a $17 million expenditure on advertising and marketing this year, making for the largest advertising push in the territory's history, according to Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards.
A new "Sea to Shining Sea" campaign will have a patriotic theme designed to appeal to travelers who may feel more comfortable taking their vacations within the United States, she said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Tourism Department offices on St. Thomas.
"It's a message of patriotism and solidarity with the United States," she said. "If the American people are willing to fly, we have a good chance of getting them to fly here."
Advertisements will begin this month, she said, with spots on television networks such as CNN, The Weather Channel and ESPN; newspaper ads; billboards in the largest cities on the East Coast; advertisements on 570 New York trains; and radio spots in the 12 largest markets of the East Coast and Midwest.
Some of the spots will feature a recorded message from Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, while music will be provided by the Territorial Court Rising Stars Steel Orchestra, Richards said.
The campaign has been developed in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which have wreaked havoc on tourism worldwide. Locally, Labor Department officials have documented about 200 people laid off from hotels. Resort managers have reported severe slumps in occupancy and a flood of cancellations for months to come.
Other Caribbean tourist destinations have also launched new marketing and incentive plans in the last two weeks in an attempt to lure guests to their islands.
"This is going to be a very, very competitive period we're entering," said Joe Slay of Martin Public Relations, the territory's mainland p.r. firm. Martin is coordinating the Virgin Islands campaign along with the territory's stateside advertising firm, Ogilvy & Mather in Atlanta.
Funding for the advertising campaign will come from the Tourism Revolving Fund, which was set up to support tourism promotion, Richards said. The governor's financial officers have assured her the money will be available as it is needed, she said.
The revolving fund has one source of revenue: the 8 percent room tax paid by hotel guests. The amount of money that goes into the fund depends on hotel occupancy levels. Local hoteliers have said that August and September were already unusually slow, even for what is typically the slowest time of the year in the territory, prior to Sept 11. Since then, there have been reports of occupancy dropping to as low as 10 percent to 15 percent.
Richards acknowledged that the terrorist attacks put the local tourism industry in a crisis but said the airlines have reported that flights have been getting fuller as time passes. "I'd say the glass is half full," she said of the prospects for the coming season. "Of course we're hurting, but we have an opportunity to recover. We've put together a plan, and if you don't have a plan, you're sure to fail."
At the press conference, Richards also said:
– A marketing campaign featuring Looney Tunes cartoon characters was successful and will be expanded to markets in Western Europe.
– The number of visitors to the Tourism Department website is up, with the site getting about 500,000 hits per month.
– Tourism officials have been trying to get in touch with NCAA officials to continue discussions about a proposed basketball tournament in the territory. Assistant Tourism Commissioner Monique Sibilly-Hodge said she expected to speak with NCAA officials Wednesday afternoon.

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