Home News Local news V.I. TOURISM FACES POST-HURRICANE CRISIS

V.I. TOURISM FACES POST-HURRICANE CRISIS

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The business community's attention is focused on Huricane Lenny's residual impact—the potential loss of thousands of tourists and millions of tourism dollars this season.
In addition to what's already being done by the Department of Tourism, the St. Thomas/St. John Hotel & Tourism Association and the Chamber of Commerce are asking the government today for a $750,000 emergency allocation to implement an immediate, post-Lenny action plan.
"Everything in this plan is critical to St. Thomas' survival this season," said Joe Aubain, Executive Director, Chamber of Commerce. "The immediate focus is getting the word out that the territory is intact."
The five-step plan will communicate positive information to key tour operators and travel planners, and includes:
* Post-Hurricane Lenny pictures on-line Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 23, at the websites st-thomas.com and st-john.com
* On-island visits in the next 10 days for key tour operators
* A New York press reception next week
* Series of breakfast seminars in the tri-state New York area, tri-state mid-Atlantic region, and Chicago area for key travel agents.
* Direct mail campaign to the travel agent audience in these same regions.
Before Lenny arrived, local businesses were in good shape, completely ready and geared up for the start of the season. But that enthusiasm quickly turned into dread, as travel cancellations began coming in for well beyond this week.
"We were prepared for an adjustment in hotel occupancy during Thanksgiving week," said Beverly Nicholson, Executive Director, St. Thomas/St. John Hotel & Tourism Association. "What we didn't anticipate is the number of cancellations we're already seeing into January."
"The gap between the pre-storm hype and the reality of what actually happened is huge," said Richard Doumeng, General Manager, Bolongo Bay Beach Club & Villas and President, St. Thomas/St. John Hotel & Tourism Association. "Just because we are OK doesn't mean anyone knows that we're OK, and that's why we need to do something quick."

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