Nov. 22, 2004 The USVI Hotel and Tourism Association has a "new attitude" and has made changes in hopes of benefiting its members and the V.I. economy.
"We're not the same old Hotel Association," said Graeme Davis, chairman of the recently-elected board, at a meeting Monday evening at the Marriott Frenchman's Reef Hotel.
For one thing, the name of the organization has been changed to now include St. Croix. It was previously referred to as the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association.
The group has also diversified its board and membership to include non-hoteliers.
Davis said one-third of its board members are now non-hoteliers. Trudy Prior of Coral World is vice chairwoman. Beverly Nicholson, a non-hotelier, serves as president of the organization. Edward Thomas, West Indian Co. president and chief executive officer, is on the board.
But the biggest change taking place is the implementation of a new initiative the Cooperative Marketing Initiative.
Nicholson said when the board brought the initiative to its members earlier this year, nine jumped to take advantage of it, investing a total of $500,000.
Each of the participating members paid $1 per room night for the initiative. American Airlines also invested, Nicholson said.
Nicholson and other staff members went to various trade shows and conducted a "sales blitz" in seven states including Texas, Nevada, Oklahoma and California. They offered hotel packages to promote the Virgin Islands as a vacation choice.
The organization also launched a Web site, www.virgin-islands-hotels.com.
"Everybody's represented here," Lisa Hamilton, co-chair of the membership committee, said. "It's not just hotels."
Nicholson said having a presence on the Internet was paramount because many tourists now use it to plan their vacations.
"Ladies and gentlemen, with your help we're going to double our plans for 2005," Nicholson told the audience, urging them to invest in the initiative.
Hamilton also told the group they are projecting a high hotel occupancy rate this winter season and for 2005. Each member of the association attending was given a copy with the projected rates for each member hotel.
The Holiday Inn, a 151-room hotel, had the highest projected occupancy rate for 2005 at 87 percent.
The member hotels, the number of rooms for each and their projected occupancy rate for 2005 as listed:
– Holiday Inn, 151 rooms, 87 percent.
– Caribbean Villas & Resort, 75 rooms, 84 percent.
– Best Western Emerald Beach, 90 rooms, 83 percent.
– Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa, 300 rooms, 81.8 percent.
– The Westin St. John, 282 rooms, 80.20 percent.
– The Ritz-Carlton, 200 rooms, 80 percent.
– Marriott Frenchman's Reef, 504 rooms, 78 percent.
– Sapphire Beach Resort and Marina, 171 rooms, 78 percent.
– Bolongo Beach Resort, 65 rooms, 75 percent.
– Caneel Bay, 166, rooms, 74.70 percent.
– Secret Harbour, 60 rooms, 70 percent.
– Best Western Carib Beach Resort, 51 rooms, 60 percent.
– Maho Bay Camps, 114 rooms, 60 percent.
– Calypso Realty PC, 6 rooms, 40 percent.
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