New CEO details goals for Caribbean hotel and tourism group
Published: March 24, 2014
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ST. THOMAS - The USVI Hotel and Tourism Association hosted its annual meeting Friday, and members got to hear from the new head of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, Jeff Vasser.
Vasser became the Caribbean association's director general and chief executive officer in November.
He gave a presentation, sharing his vision for the organization. While the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association traditionally has been a hotel association, under Vasser's leadership, he wants to embrace others in the tourism industry, such as restaurants, tour operators and attractions.
"We want to make CHTA more valuable to its members," Vasser said. "You'll be seeing some new and exciting initiatives coming out of CHTA in the coming months."
The four main areas of focus for the group are advocacy, events, regional marketing and education, he said.
One of Vasser's priorities is to aggressively move ahead with the Caribbean Tourism Development Company, a 50/50 partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organization - a group of government tourism officials. The goal of the company is to market the region as a whole, providing a one-stop shop for people researching a Caribbean vacation.
The development company has a website - caribbeantravel.com - and will air its first television spot later this year, according to Vasser.
He showed a draft version of the TV ad, which had a "Life needs the Caribbean" motto.
Vasser said he will be back in the territory in a few months to present a revamped strategic plan for the region.
V.I. Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty also addressed the association members, highlighting the success of the new Delta daily flight from JFK to St. Thomas.
She said the "trial run" for the flight - which used to be a weekly flight - was supposed to end in May. However, it has done so well that Delta is extending it through August.
In the coming weeks, the commissioner said she will make some announcements related to airlift to St. Croix.
Nicholson-Doty said she also is working closely with the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to expand airlift connections between the U.S. Virgin Islands and South America.
Two major tourism industry conferences will take place in the territory this year, she said.
In June, the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association will have its Platinum Conference on St. Croix for the first time ever, she said.
In September, the Caribbean Tourism Organization's State of the Industry conference will be on St. Thomas, she said.
Nicholson-Doty also highlighted the new partnership with local reggae artist Pressure Busspipe and his latest single "Virgin Islands Nice."
The song will be used in a national television ad featuring local talent. It will also be the centerpiece of a summer travel promotion and a social media campaign to acknowledge "nice" service and travel experiences in the territory.
In her statement to the association, USVI Hotel and Tourism chairwoman Trudie Prior urged the membership to lobby senators to pass a full ban on barkers, or store promoters. She said legislation is being considered that imposes a partial ban, but the organization is pushing for a full ban.
Also at Friday's meeting, the board of directors of the USVI Hotel and Tourism Association was re-elected in an uncontested election.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email email@example.com.