The strong interest in the United States Virgin Islands was encouraging for the territory’s team at this week’s 30th anniversary staging of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) Caribbean Marketplace in the Bahamas.
“People are very excited about the US Virgin Islands,” reported Deputy Commissioner of Tourism Chantal Figueroa, who listed new convenient air service, the ease of travel, the no-passport requirement and the three distinct island offerings as major drawing points among conference buyers.
“Although we are one destination, buyers are pleased they can offer their clients different things to do because of how varied our islands are,” she said. The new air service to the territory on both JetBlue Airways and Air Canada contributed to the keen responses at the biggest gathering of the Caribbean travel and tourism industry and companies which serve them abroad.
Figueroa described her team’s more than 40 appointments with travel and media partners over two days as “productive”. The meetings, she added, provided the opportunity to cement partnerships with traditional and new tour operators and communicate the Department of Tourism’s strategy for 2012.
While the Department of Tourism team is in regular communication with its partners throughout the year, she pointed out, “at Marketplace we are able to meet face to face with tour operators to strengthen our relationships, communicate our strategy, discuss booking trends and advance our marketing charge.”
Of particular interest to delegates, observed Figueroa, was a Master Class taught by TripAdvisor about online marketing strategies to help promote the growth of tourism.
The Deputy Commissioner also observed as more and more consumers book travel online and with mobile devices, tour operators are looking at ways to make the online and mobile booking experience more exciting and fun.
The USVI delegation was led by Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty who attended pre-convention meetings with Caribbean ministers and commissioners of tourism which focused in part on advancing regional marketing efforts and the revival of the Caribbean Tourism Development Company.
Also reaching out to the hundreds of attendees at Caribbean Marketplace was the Department’s marketing coordinator Chantel Hoheb; incoming president of the CHTA Richard Doumeng of Bolongo Bay Beach Resort; Lisa Hamilton, president of the US Virgin Islands Hotel and Tourism Association; and more than a dozen representatives from a number of the US Virgin Islands’ leading hotels and resorts.
During closed door sessions, Hamilton was elected President of the Caribbean Society of Hotel Association Executives (CSHAE) for a two-year term.