July 11, 2002 – Tourist-oriented publications come and they go in the Virgin Islands. Two of the more venerable ones now on the stands are in the midst of changes, and others are on the horizon for the coming season.
St. Thomas This Week lives on, but the publication founded in 1960 by Margot Bachman is about to undergo another change.
Bachman sold St. Thomas This Week several years ago to Morris Caribbean Publications Inc., which also bought St. Croix This Week. Under publisher Donna Pagano, the magazine shifted focus to appeal to both tourists and local residents. However, Pagano is out and Charles Morris is in as the magazine's head, and Morris plans to return the target audience to tourists. "It's easier for advertisers to get the message across," he said.
He said the new format will begin in the fall. However, despite the name, the publication will still come out monthly, a switch made after Bachman sold the publication.
There is a new owner at Island Media Inc., which publishes the annual Virgin Islands Playground visitor guidebook, but the person in charge is still the same. Debra Farrelly, who had been president of Island Media and editor of the magazine, is now the owner. She bought the business on May 24 from St. Thomas-based Topa Equities.
"If I was going to put this much time and creativity into something," Farrelly said, "I wanted it to be mine."
She has brought Franny Newbold on board to help with marketing. Newbold held Farrelly's job before Farrelly took over under Topa Equities ownership. Before Farrelly moved to Playground, she spent 10 years at St. Thomas This Week as associate editor under Bachman.
Farrelly said Virgin Islands Playground has been in business for 29 years. "We're selling the 2003 edition right now," she said, and it's scheduled to hit the streets on Nov. 1.
Destination is among the non-local publications competing for a slice of the Virgin Islands advertising dollar. The annual magazine, owned by the England-based Ralston Publications, is distributed on American Airlines and U.S. Airways flights to the Caribbean.
For the second year, Ralston will publish a Virgin Islands edition of Destination. It will be carried on flights to St. Thomas and St. Croix from Boston; New York's JFK International; Philadelphia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Miami; and San Juan.
The magazine recently announced its St. Thomas team: AdPro owner Cathy O'Gara as content editor, Don Hebert as photographer, and St. Thomas/St. John Restaurant Guide publisher Trace Donaldson as sales representative.
O'Gara said the new local edition "is coming out Nov. 15."
Caribbean Travel and Life will be publishing two 2003 visitor guides for the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association. One is a hard-cover book called Discover that will stay in hotel rooms of association members. The other is a digest-size publication called Explore that will be distributed at tourist pickup locations along with St. Thomas This Week and Playground.
Explore "will have coupons and lots of things that give it immediacy," publisher Sue Gilman said. The content of the two publications will be similar, she said, but the covers will be different. Both will be available in January.
Beverly Nicholson, hotel association executive director, said that Caribbean Travel and Life offered the best package when the job of producing the in-room and on-street visitor guidebooks for the association was put out to bid. "There were great marketing opportunities," she said. Caribbean Travel and Life also publishes dive, boating and food magazines, she said, and the hotel association's contract includes a web site for each of the publications.
Nicholson said the publisher of What to Do, a digest-size annual which previously served as the association's official guidebook, will publish the association's travel planner for 2002/2003. She said the What to Do contract had expired, which is why the job was put out to bid.
Great Dane Inc., which will continue to publish the light-hearted St. John and St. Croix Guidebooks and maps, will not publish the St. Thomas Guidebook and map for this coming season, owner Arne Jakobsen said. After three years of publishing the St. Thomas materials, he said, he has concluded that the St. Thomas advertising market wants a more serious-style guidebook.
Great Dane's guidebooks and maps are filled with cartoons and jokes by Linda Smith- Palmer, creator of the Max the Mongoose cartoon character. "We are sticking to our style," Jakobsen said, adding that it works well on St. John and St. Croix. He said the St. Croix map will be a full-color, glossy affair this year, rather than the green and white publication of years past. All of the Great Dane publications will hit the stands at Thanksgiving, he said.
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