Beverly Nicholson-Doty, who serves as Commissioner of Tourism for the United States Virgin Islands, weighs in on "America's Caribbean Paradise."
What makes the USVI especially appealing to groups?
The U.S. Virgin Islands offers an idyllic Caribbean setting for meetings and incentive travel. Our selection of world-class facilities, activities, attractions, and island flair provide the perfect mix for groups of all sizes. Because the USVI is a U.S. Territory, U.S. citizens can take advantage of the fact that no passports are required to get here. Also, with nonstop flights from major U.S. cities, there are great values and hassle-free options year-round. Another great incentive is the ability to hop between St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas for day trips via both ferry and seaplane. This provides groups with the opportunity to expand their experience while on-island - they're not just limited to one.
What trends are you seeing?
We've been seeing quite a few groups integrating corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and community outreach into their trip itineraries. From donating books or computers to a local school, to beautifying a building at the Boys & Girls Club, or assisting with repairs on a sail boat for a high school's marine program, groups are making a point to give back to the local community in the destination.
Are there any new attractions to report?
We have a few new activities, dining, and accommodation options that appeal to planners. Groups looking to incorporate some adventure in team building or networking events can opt for attractions like aerial tours and zip lining. The hot, new hang out spot on St. Thomas is Abi's Beach Bar. This new restaurant is only accessible by boat and provides breathtaking vistas, refreshing cocktails, and delicious cuisine. On St. Croix, Zion Modern Kitchen offers simple farm-to-table dishes paired with cleverly crafted cocktails, and 40 Strand has a stellar wine list and unique dining offerings with Danish influences. We're also gearing up for the opening of the 262-room Margaritaville Vacation Club in late summer on St. Thomas.
What's on the horizon?
Our goal is to continue to be top-of-mind for meeting planners when they're looking for a destination to host their groups. We've launched an array of attractive promotions offering perks such as complimentary incentives and unique experiences for the MICE market over the years, and will continue to provide similar promotions in 2016. We are also focused on several beautification projects at this time, including improving our roadways, waterfront areas, airports, and cruise ports as well as $150-plus million Charlotte Amalie Revitalization and Veterans Drive Design projects.