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HomeNewsArchivesFailed U.K. Terrorist Plot Having Little Effect on V.I. Tourism

Failed U.K. Terrorist Plot Having Little Effect on V.I. Tourism

Aug. 24, 2006 – Tourism officials said that they haven't seen anything other than the normal late summer slowdown in the wake of the foiled plot to blow up airplanes headed from England to the United States.
"I didn't think that we would," Beverly Nicholson, president of the Virgin Islands Hotel and Tourism Association, said Wednesday.
She said that following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, travelers became accustomed to making adjustments.
"For most people, it's par for the course," she said.
Steve Bornn, marketing director for the Tourism Department, agreed with Nicholson's assessment about the usual seasonal slowdown.
However, he hoped cooler V.I. temperatures would lure visitors from the oppressive heat in parts of the U.S. mainland.
Immediately after the apprehension on Aug. 10 of the suspects in the planned airplane-bombing plot, Nicholson said she was concerned about the impact on the territory's liquor and perfume sales because liquids are now banned from carry-on luggage.
Sara Tieben of the advertising department at A.H. Riise faxed a statement that said the store's customers responded favorably to recommendations for transporting liquids. She said there were no unusual customer complaints or reports of breakage.
Tieben said that A.H. Riise's liquor package was designed to be checked as baggage.
Richard Doumeng, manager at Bolongo Bay Beach Club, said that he saw a short-term falloff in phone calls received immediately after the bombing attack plans were made public.
"And last-minute booking fell off a bit," he said.
However, Doumeng said that the devastation caused when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast dealt the biggest blow to the territory's September tourism.
He said Americans are the most geographically handicapped people on Earth, and think that if a hurricane hits anywhere, the Virgin Islands must have suffered.
"Katrina hits the Gulf of Mexico, and we get phone calls asking how is Bolongo," he said.
Doumeng said that the "media hysteria" that followed the hit by Hurricane Katrina and the break in New Orleans' levees also contributed to the public's perception that September wasn't a good time to travel.
Doumeng said that while September may be slower than normal, October, November and December look good for Bolongo.
"They're pacing ahead," he said.
Vicki Locke, at the Buccaneer Hotel on St. Croix, said that the hotel didn't suffer any as a result of the foiled bombing plot.
"People are going with the flow," she said,
She said that she's seen no increase in request for items like toothpaste that the hotel has on hand for guests who forget theirs or lose their luggage.
And she said the Buccaneer has had a good summer season and is full Thursday.
Island Getaways owner Kathy McLaughlin said that it looks like the St. John villas she manages are doing about the same as last August. However, she said she has noticed that the number of phone calls coming in for winter reservations seems just a bit slower than last August.
"It could be just this time of the year," she said.
Radha Speer, owner of Caravan Gallery on St. John, said that business at her gift shop is slower, but she thinks it's a combination of factors that add up to St. John becoming more of a seasonal destination than a year-round one.
She said that more restaurants than before close during the late summer and early fall months. She said three of her employees are taking a month off, a change from previous years.
She suggested that people make enough money during the busy winter season to be able to afford a long vacation.
Speer also said that people are aware that it's hurricane season, which may deter them from visiting.
She also noted that the cost of lodging and food for a St. John vacation is very high, even in the off-season, which may deter people from coming. However, she said she doesn't think budget-conscious visitors are limited to the summer.
"I saw budget-conscious people in January like never before," she said.
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