Update: Help has arrived. A little bit.

This morning, Thursday, the Tourism Department’s list of news releases works. 

It’s really odd, tho … instead of clicking links to see the story, you have to click either the "Word" or the "PDF" button to get the text in those formats.  No other web site I’ve seen does this.

Wonder what the Department doesn’t like about Web pages.  Could it be that this way, converting it to two formats, takes more time and makes more work?

Yesterday’s post:

Beverly_picThe government could do better promoting tourism in the Virgin Islands.  Perhaps that’s the reason the Commissioner of Tourism, Beverley Nicholson-Doty will make an appearance at a lunch meeting of the Territory’s top advertising people.

An e-mail from the American Advertising Federation of the U.S. Virgin Islands (formerly known more simply as the ‘Ad Club’) says Doty will offer a look behind-the-scenes at the work she and JWT, the island’s advertising agency, are doing.

"It seems the stateside image of the U.S. Virgin Islands needs to be changed," the advertising group said. "Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty of the Department of Tourism will show us what people’s perceptions really are and how our advertising needs to be repositioned."

From my surfing on the Web, it appears JWT is a new player this year.  The Tourism Dept.’s Web site says M. Booth and Asssociates of New York are the PR contacts for the Territory.  In the past, however, JWT has worked for the Tourism Department, as long ago as 2001.  There was a change for 2008 and JWT is back, and now has some research and opinion polling which will help inform its promotional efforts for what appears to be a new campaign for the islands.

Lord knows, efforts have been pretty minimal recently – despite declining tourism and cutbacks in airline service.  The "official" tourism Web site still sucks: no fresh content, nothing posted daily to keep people interested in what’s happening on the islands, God-awful slow to load pages and the Department’s "Press Room" hasn’t had a new release in months, offering media nothing new to write.  Even the Events Calendar is blank!  ("Nothing to see there folks, move along.")

But, the #3 press release on the page touts an award to Commissioner Nicholson-Doty, in June, naming her an "Outstanding Woman in Travel." Here’s a link to that story: http://www.onepaper.com/stcroixvi/?v=d&i=&s=Business:St.+Croix&p=1212899165.  Ironically, you can’t read the Department’s own release about that honor – because none of the links on the Press Room page work, at least on my Mac and its two browser.

Don’t get me wrong.  I want the Commissioner and JWT to do well at the lunch.  And I want them to do well in promoting the islands over the next year.  And I REALLY want them to do much better than they have.

5 thoughts on “Update: Help has arrived. A little bit.”

  1. The official tourism web site has been nothing but a joke since the beginning. Not user friendly and it gives very little information and the information it does have is out of date. I would like to see a commissioner who comes to the position with an experienced background in advertising and marketing.

  2. I have watched Ms. Doty from the days she was the “heads and beds” director of the hotel association. Simply because she aligned herself with our Governor doesn’t make her qualified to understand the complex nature of marketing the territories in my opinion. She has no training in professional marketing and PR other than her time on the job at the hotel association.
    On the contrary, she is woefully underqualified and is only concerned with filling hotel rooms and bringing in more “5 tee shirts for $10” mentality to tourism marketing. That’s all she basically did at the hotel association in my opinion. She does NOT have a broad view of branding the entire Caribbean into one region as has been discussed at recent CTO (Caribbean Tourism Organization) and CHA (Caribbean Hotel Association) meetings.
    instead, she runs a “fools errand” trying to court Europeans and others who live over 8000 miles away who are not willing to pay the high airfare and put up with the lack of tourism infrastructure that visitors are greeted with. And she refuses to address the extremely poor PR that is posted at travel websites. Visitors complain about this lack of professional courtesy shown towards them (among other complaints) when they arrive. And all efforts to get visitors to Frederoksted is nice, but the crime and social structure deters repeat visitors. The waterfront closes up at 4PM since only banks lease the buildings at the cruise ship dock.
    And I see absolutely no effort to get the 2 million plus residents of Puerto Rico with significant disposable income to travel only 40 miles to the USVI.
    In addition, past and current board members of the hotel association (who were big time supporters of the Governor and picked ms. Doty to head the hotel association prior to her current job) now control the Virgin Island branding message, marketing and PR and it isn’t good. They have a very myopic view, again, only concerned with filling rooms at all cost without regard to the demographic they are bringing in, again, all of my views are my opinion.
    The stateside ad agency and PR firm have no clue really as to who and what Virgin islanders are, and do a very poor job of promoting our islands to our neighbors in Puerto Rico and BVI.
    There is a wealth of marketing and PR talent here in the Virgin Islands, and we don’t need Madison Avenue attempting to “whitewash” over the real culture, heritage and history of the islands with inane print and broadcast ad campaigns, spending $50,000 to light up the side of the Empire State Building, and other wasteful and thoughtless spending of limited tourism dollars.
    Next time I attend a tourism department event, the gift bags should contain gifts made by Virgin Islanders, not pens and tee shirts from China or hot sauce from Louisiana!
    If you can’t get the official gift bag of the Virgin Islands right, you’ll never understand the larger “gift bag” we need to promote to the rest of our region and our neighbors in the BVI and Puerto Rico.
    We need a new tourism director. But that may not happen until there is a new Governor.

  3. I first met Beverly Nicholson-Doty during my tenure as the U.S. Sales Manager for The Buccaneer and Sapphire Beach Resort + Marina in early 2000. In my role as a leading sales, marketing and public relations executive in the Caribbean, I have admired the efforts and programs that Ms. Nicholson-Doty has spearheaded on behalf of the U.S.V.I. Hotel Association and now, in her current role as the Commissioner of Tourism. Her knowledge of the destination from a hotel and resort perspective, and many years of hands-on experience, has provided her with a unmatched and extremely helpful perspective. While I am currently working with another Caribbean island, I applaud Ms. Nicholson-Doty’s efforts and wish her continued success in her endeavors to position the U.S. Virgin Islands foremost in the minds of vacationers throughout the world.

  4. I was interested in the US Virgin Islands carnival especially for St. John. I though for sure I would find lots of information on the tourism web site. I can’t find anything! zero… I hope that can be fixed I am sure a lot of tourists would be interested.

  5. We were in St John during their Carnival in 07. It was the week of July 4. Not sure if this is always the case…but we hope so…we’ll be returing for 10 days in 09. LOTS of fun stuff for the kids to do as well…our daughter had a blast.

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