Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Virgin Islands Hope to Lure More American Tourists with Deals

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Virgin Islands Hope to Lure More American Tourists with Deals

Article excerpt

THE U.S. VIRGIN Islands is struggling to lure wary American tourists this winter in the wake of a devastating hurricane last September and has decided to appeal to patriotism as well as their pocketbook.

"They're your islands," is the slogan of new ads designed to set the U.S. Virgins apart from countless other Caribbean nations that compete for vacationers.

TV ads aim to remind Americans that they can indulge themselves on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John without ever leaving the United States. In one ad, 71-year-old St. Croix native Olric "Rick" Carrington says the U.S. Virgins, "are just like all the other islands in the Caribbean . . . with some exceptions: You don't need passports, language dictionaries, foreign currency and you won't go crazy talking to those non-English-speaking operators.

"Come to think of it, we're nothing like those other islands."

Major St. Thomas hotels - including Blackbeard's, Emerald Beach, Marriott Frenchman's Reef, Secret Harbor Beach Resort/View Villas and Wy ndham Sugar Bay -are offering substantially discounted rates to compensate for the fact that they may not be offering all their usual amenities (some decided as long as they had to repair storm damage they would also do some remodeling). An estimated 60 percent of St. Thomas hotels are open, many having rebounded faster than anticipated.

Several hotels on St. Croix, which was only brushed by Hurricane Marilyn, are offering value-added packages. All St. Croix hotels reportedly are open for business.

On smaller, less developed St. John - much of which is a national park - vacationers are being encouraged to sample small inns and guest houses, which sustained little, if any, storm damage. St. John's two major properties, the Hyatt Regency and Caneel Bay resorts, are also taking the opportunity to remodel; the Hyatt expects to re-open March 1, Caneel Bay on June 1. Many new businesses also have opened on all three islands in addition to those being rebuilt.

For general information about the U.S. Virgins call (800) 372-USVI. …

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