Aug. 24, 2001 – The Virgin Islands' loss is the Virgin Islands' gain.
After having the Virgin Islands as her account for six years, Amy Atkinson has resigned from Martin Public Relations, the mainland firm representing the V.I. Tourism Department.
Taking over the account is Luana Wheatley, a St. Thomian who has been working with Martin P.R. for several years and has been a senior account executive in the company's headquarters in Richmond, Va., for a year and a half.
Atkinson said her last day with Martin was Aug. 10 but that she would continue to work for Tourism on a consultant basis until Sept. 7 "to further ease the transition resulting from my departure."
At a St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association meeting on Friday, Richard Doumeng, association president, said, "We have been finely represented by Amy. She will be missed."
He praised Atkinson for helping the Virgin Islands through the crisis of Hurricane Marilyn, noting that she had been assigned the V.I. account just weeks before the storm struck. In the aftermath of Marilyn he said, "her enthusiasm and spirit helped reassure people we do business with."
Atkinson will be joining the Opryland Hospitality Group in Nashville, Tenn., as its director of marketing and communications. While looking forward to this new opportunity, she said, she will never stop promoting the Virgin Islands. "I will always have a great love for the islands and their people," she said.
Under her consulting agreement with Tourism, Atkinson's last assignment will be to represent the Virgin Islands at the Society of American Travel Writers annual convention Sept. 4-7 in Bermuda. The convention is the largest annual gathering of U.S. and Canadian travel writers and photographers, and she'll be "trying to pitch for next year's press trips" to the territory, she said.
Wheatley served as the territory's on-island liaison for Martin P.R. in the 1990s before relocating to the firm's Virginia headquarters in January 2000.
"With Luana heading the team, the p.r. work is not going to skip a beat," Atkinson said. Beverly Nicholson, St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association executive director, also expressed her confidence. "Luana's experience at Martin combined with her knowledge of the V.I. will produce the same great results that we have come to expect from Martin," she said.
Atkinson said she feels that her greatest accomplishment as the p.r. point person for the Virgin Islands has been "to be there day in and day out with consistent positive messages to the media. That sounds so simple, but travel editors have said they appreciate that we're always accessible and we have the answers. In public relations, it's 'slow and steady wins the race.' It's not a sprint; it's more like a marathon."


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