June 10, 2001 – The official V.I. Tourism web site will be up and running in two and a half weeks, and the final four members of the governor's new Tourism Advisory Committee will be announced within a week, according to Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards.
Speaking on the "Leona" talk show on WVWI Friday afternoon, Richards said, "We are waiting now for Property and Procurement and the governor to sign off on the contract" for the web site.
The host will be IBM, which also designed the web page, working with the territory's national advertising agency, Ogilvy and Mather/Atlanta. The site "was ready last January," Richards said. "We have to go in now and update the information."
According to Richards, Tourism put out a Request for Proposals (RFP) locally as well as nationally for a site host, and "only IBM responded."
IBM will charge $50,000 a year to host the site, "but it's not charging us for hosting the first year," Richards said. She described the annual fee that will kick in next year as "very competitive."
She promised that the Internet-attuned public will be impressed with what it sees on the Tourism web site. "You want a Rolls Royce but you can make do with a Honda," she said. "We got a Rolls Royce."
The design cost, she said, was $700,000-plus, and what the territory is getting for its money "is on the cutting edge. We actually had them [IBM] design some new elements that have not been used anywhere else."
Richards had said in April that an addendum to IBM's contract provided that Tourism would be responsible for maintaining the site — that is, for updating the information displayed on it. Two Tourism employees were being trained to do the work, she said then.
With regard to the governor's advisory committee, Richards said there "will be a public announcement of the latter four members within the next week."
In April, Gov. Charles W. Turnbull announced the four private sector members of his new committee as the executive directors of the territory's two hotel and tourism associations and two chambers of commerce. Three days later, the four organizations announced that their personnel would not take part in the advisory body.
Turnbull pledged to create the council in February when he vetoed a bill passed by the 23rd Legislature creating a quasi-independent Tourism Authority that would have majority representation from the private sector. The local hospitality and business community was instrumental in getting the bill introduced.
As government representatives on the eight-member advisory group, the governor named his public affairs aide, James O’Bryan; former Tourism director Leona Bryant, host of the "Leona" show; former assistant Tourism director Claire Roker, who now works for Delegate Donna Christian-Christensen; and Harold Baker, then executive director of the V.I. Taxicab Association and now director of the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency.
Richards said Friday that the "latter four members" who will replace the private-sector individuals previously announced "have accepted." However, she added, "The first four accepted, too. No one has said 'no' to me, although four people dropped out."
During the radio program, she also touched on current Tourism advertising campaigns, noting that because of budget restrictions, "We have to be refined and defined" in positioning ads. One market currently targeted, she said, is Los Angeles, where ads are running in the L.A. Times Sunday travel section. Also, she said, there will be "a separate intra-Caribbean campaign."
Meantime, she said, the Virgin Islands presence on the Looney Toons cartoon web site is in the midst of "what they promised us was a long campaign." To see the web page with its signs and signposts throughout promoting the territory and a chance for viewers to win a trip for eight, go to looneytoons.


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