Dec. 21, 2005 The territory recently topped off its list of awards with the 2005 Readers Choice Award for Best Caribbean Destination from Travel Weekly, a trade publication.
"It speaks highly about how the trade feels about us. They're the ones that are going to sell us," Steve Bornn, Tourism Department marketing director, said.
Gov. Charles Turnbull said in a news release issued Wednesday that the territory beat out Aruba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and St. Lucia for the coveted award.
Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards said that the Travel Weekly award was an honor and a marvelous distinction of excellence that the territory will work towards earning for many more years.
Turnbull said the award was accepted for the government by Henry "Skip" de Lagarde, who serves as North American manager for the Tourism Department, at the 3rd Annual Readers Choice Gala and Dinner Program held Dec. 15 at the Pierre Hotel in New York City.
Gay Myers, Travel Weekly's Caribbean editor, confirmed Wednesday that the territory had received the award, but had no further information.
The governor said the award involved two rounds of voting. First Travel Weekly readers nominated the finalists by write-in voting. Second, the readers voted from a ballot of the five finalists per category.
Both Turnbull and Bornn spoke about the improvements the territory has made in its tourism product.
"This administration is very proud that the Virgin Islands has made significant strikes to upgrade our tourism product to the point where it is receiving national recognition," Turnbull said.
He said that this and other awards are the result of an aggressive and very effective marketing and advertisement program by the Tourism Department and its travel partners.
Bornn said that the territory strived to raise the bar.
"And we are doing that," he said.
The Travel Weekly award comes on the heels of a slew of other awards received by the territory during 2005.
Conde Nast Traveler named St. John the Best Island in the Caribbean and Atlantic.
Bornn said the magazine's readers were discerning travelers.
"It's like the New York Times of travel magazines," he said.
The territory also was named One of the 10 Best Places to Stay by National Geographic Traveler.
Corporate and Incentive Travel Magazine gave the Virgin Islands the 2005 Award of Excellence Favorite of Corporate Meeting and Incentive Travel Partners Award.
Additionally, St. Thomas got the editor in chief's Best Caribbean Shopping award from Porthole Cruise Magazine.
Caribbean Travel and Life gave 19 Virgin Islands locations awards in its 2005 program.
And the Tourism Department's public relations and advertisement agencies received industry awards for the development of the territory's public relations and advertising campaigns.
Bornn said the flurry of awards means a lot to the territory.
"It gives us superb bragging rights," he said.
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