Department of Tourism Brings the Heat to Southern Florida

~ USVI partners with the Miami Heat to boost interest for winter and spring bookings ~

Miami, Fla. (January 26, 2014) – The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism (DOT) today concluded a five-day mission in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to boost travel to the Territory.  Led by Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty and Deputy Commissioner Chantal Figueroa, consumers, media and travel trade were engaged in the USVI’s unscripted travel experiences.

On Sunday, Jan. 26, the USVI took over American Airlines Arena, immersing a capacity crowd of more than 20,000 spectators with the sights and sounds of the Territory as the Miami Heat took on St. Croix’s own Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs for a 2013 NBA Finals rematch.  A highlight of the day was the half time performance by USVI dancers who filled the arena with the color and energy of Carnival, paired with destination ambassadors personally inviting spectators to visit at on-site USVI branded kiosks. In addition, Tim Duncan’s scoring of 24 points in 24 minutes thrilled Virgin Islanders in the crowd.  Fifty VIP guests of the DOT were in attendance, with representatives from the shipping industry, media, travel trade, meeting/incentive buyers and American Airlines.

“Thanks to the support of our airline partners, the USVI remains an easy escape for Southern Floridians with the choice of 50 nonstop flights weekly to the Territory from Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports,” said Nicholson-Doty.  “Our marketing partnership with the Miami Heat was a ‘slam dunk,’ providing a unique way to share the diverse travel offerings on St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas to ensure the U.S. Virgin Islands remains top of mind when South Florida residents book their next vacation.”

Another component of the Miami Heat collaboration was the DOT-hosted ‘USVI Heat Wave Getaway’ offering three chances to win a trip. The month-long sweepstakes reached more than 4 million potential travelers.  The three winners Doren Bennett, Albert Hunter and Angela Sambito, were announced during half time at the game. Each won round-trip airfare for two from Miami, Fla. and a three-night hotel stay, courtesy of The Buccaneer, The Westin St. John Resort & Villas and Marriott Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Resort.

On Saturday evening Jan. 25, 2014 the DOT met with an audience of more than 75 U.S. Virgin Islanders, business and community stakeholders living in the region at the Conrad Miami. At the reception Commissioner Nicholson-Doty underscored the power of the Diaspora in boosting tourism arrivals and revenues. Highlighting the initial success of the Virgin Islands Ambassadors Program, she said the DOT was moving the program into higher gear, and encouraged attendees to get involved by visiting www.usviambassadors.com   while continuing to encourage friends, family and work colleagues to visit the Territory. A Virgin Islands ensemble of musicians, including the versatile Dean Pond on drums and Ryan Joseph on sax and vocals, entertained with a soothing repertoire of Caribbean music. Also USVI dancers and international recording artist Pressure Busspipe charged the atmosphere with dance and vocal renditions that left the packed audience wanting more.

Throughout the five-day mission the team met with 26 locally-based journalists from culinary, diaspora, lifestyle/travel, meetings and travel trade media. Either during desk side appointments or at an exclusive dinner on Thursday, Jan. 23,  story ideas highlighting USVI’s unique attributes and travel product were pitched to contributors of Caribbean Journal, Caribbean Living, CaribCast TV,  Coastal Living,  Modern Luxury, Islands, Travel + Leisure and  USAToday.com. A highlight of the mission was a radio interview with WAVS 1170AM “The Heartbeat of the Caribbean”, where Commissioner Nicholson Doty took calls live on air to interact with Virgin Islanders listening in.

Travel trade marketing efforts touched 55 of the region’s best performing travel agents for the Territory, achieved through in-office education presentations and at a trade reception in Coral Gables, Fla. on Wednesday, Jan. 22.  Destination partners from The Buccaneer, Bolongo Bay Beach Resort, Cape Air, Eco Serendib Villa and Spa, Marriott Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Resort as well as Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort & Spa accompanied the DOT.
The DOT also used this Mission to publicize its new “Find Your Bliss” promotion, providing visitors $500 in savings on their next Caribbean winter or spring getaway to St. Croix. The deal is available on stays of five or more consecutive nights at one of the participating 13 properties between Jan. 27 and May 15, 2014 to receive a $250 in resort credit and certificates valid at local restaurants, boutiques and attractions to the value of $250. One of four different bliss themed packages can be chosen: Culinary, Dive, Get out of the Cold and Romance. The five night minimum stay can be booked directly with participating properties or with a preferred travel specialist. To access the offer, visit www.VisitUSVI.com/usvibliss and insert the booking confirmation number.

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Photo #1 Caption: USVI dancers bring the sights and sounds of Carnival to Miami’s American Airlines Arena during halftime between the Miami Heat and the
San Antonio Spurs.

Photo #2 Caption: U.S. Virgin Islands featured on American Airlines Arena’s score board.

Photo #3 Caption: Deputy Commissioner Figueroa with ‘USVI Heat Wave Getaway’ winners Doren Bennett, Albert Hunter and Angela Sambito.

 

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Contact:

Luana A. Wheatley

Assistant Director of Communications

(340) 774-8784

lawheatley@usvitourism.vi