On Thursday, Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. of the United States Virgin Islands hosted participants in the Caribbean Media Exchange conference which was held on St. Thomas this weekend. “I welcome to the island of St. Thomas the 55 delegates in attendance representing a wide variety of journalists, public relations broadcasting and film production professionals. Let me also thank New York University for partnering with us to make this conference a great success,” de Jongh said in brief remarks at the Government House reception.
The governor noted that this conference serves many purposes of great benefit to the professions represented in the delegation, and the people and governments of Caribbean destinations like the Virgin Islands. “First of all, it provides us with a chance to introduce all of you-professionals who are deeply rooted in the affairs of this region-to the latest research in sustainable tourism development. This research provides a contextual backdrop from which we can discuss topics important to all of us over the coming days: media relations, social media, crisis management, airlift, emerging markets and many others,” de Jongh said.
The complex relationships between the media, government and private sector are important to us all. “Each sector profoundly affects all the others, and as we all work to maintain our professional obligations and serve our specific interests, we find ourselves frequently crossing paths with each other. Sometimes these diverse groups appear conflicted and at odds, but in many ways that is the inherent brilliance of our system. We all push against each other to stand higher and do a better job,” he added.
For the Virgin Islands and so many of our neighbors, the tourists that come into our ports and fill our towns, beaches and nightspots are more than just valued guests. “They are the lifeblood of our economies and vital to the interests and prosperity of our people. Those of us in government recognize this, and we work hard to create an environment that caters to the needs of tourists, knowing they chose our island to visit above many other options,” de Jongh noted, adding, “But the enthusiasm to provide a great experience and win the loyalty of our guests must be tempered by the need to preserve and protect these beautiful islands for our people and for future visitors. That means we must work to develop sustainable energy sources, implement sound environmental protection policies, and avoid the kind of over development that may create short term revenue but have a deleterious long term effect.”
He said we all strive to create and foster a tourism industry that positively impacts our islands and enhances the health and wellbeing of the native peoples. “This is a complex task inextricably linked to so many other challenging issues like environmental regulation, education, culture and financial health. This goal we all share will only be achieved through mutual cooperation, and for 10 years the CMEx conference has provided a venue for just that.”