The top brass of the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) says poor marketing strategy on the part of authorities is likely to be blamed for Caribbean nationals opting to travel to other destinations instead of other Caribbean countries.
In addition, Lieutenant Governor of the USVI Osbert Potter wants countries that use the LIAT service to simply do what needs to be done to support the airline and iron out the challenges instead of just talking about them.
Osbert argued that people in the region would almost “naturally” select a destination outside the Caribbean when they planned their vacation because the marketing of each destination throughout the Caribbean was lacking.
“We don’t naturally select a Caribbean island as our destination if you want to do a vacation, it doesn’t come as naturally as it should. I think it probably could be because of the marketing that is not as robust as it should be with each other,” said Potter, who is seeking re-election in the November 6 general election.
“I know for a fact that every island has so much to offer, that if individuals from the other islands were to be made aware of it and they are targeted to let’s say, come to this island or that island and come and see this or the other, I don’t think we can lose . . . Each island has its own positives that can go a long way, if in fact they market to each other,” he said.
Potter was speaking to regional media practitioners during a press trip designed to promote the resumption of LIAT flights from Antigua to St Thomas.
LIAT had suspended its service between Antigua and St Croix in March 2017 and Antigua and St Thomas in June of the same year.
Flights between Antigua and St Thomas resumed on July 2 this year after the Lieutenant Governor “jumped in” to iron out some lingering concerns.
LIAT now offers three daily flights – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays – between Antigua and St Thomas.
Pointing out that without the LIAT service it was more costly and time consuming for USVI nationals to travel to other Caribbean destinations because they had to go through Miami, Potter said he took the initiative to offer the airline some tax incentives.
“From there I sort of connected LIAT with individuals who could have assisted, one of them was the port authority and the other was Homeland Security. There were some Homeland Security elevation type concern, and there were some concerns with fees from the port authority. I never thought those were things that would be insurmountable and I thought that someone needed to be pushing the issue and guiding it rather than just saying ‘we need to do something’ and then hope that it happens. So I got involved in it,” he said.