The United States Virgin Islands is calling on more sporting enthusiasts, including tennis players, to visit the world famous Caribbean islands.
Speaking at the US Open, the final Grand Slam event of the year, First Lady of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cecile de Jongh, said tennis was not only a terrific outlet for youth recreation, building self-confidence and staying healthy, but it remained a great vehicle to attract visitors interested in playing and training at the many first class tennis facilities throughout the hotel, resort and villa community.
Citing the success of “Paradise Jams”, the pre-season college basketball tournament that takes place in St. Thomas each Fall, the First Lady, an avid player and fan, said “with our year-round warm climate, cool breezes, white sand beaches and azure waters, the U.S. Virgin Islands offers amateur and professional tennis players, and other sportsmen and women, ideal conditions to play in paradise.”
According to travel trade press reports this week, former tennis professional Peter Burwash believes travel agents can one day generate more revenues on tennis travel than they do in the already-lucrative golf travel market. Burwash added tennis was the fastest growing sport within the last year and the Caribbean is one of the best places in the world to play.
While in New York, First Lady de Jongh welcomed guests to the U.S. Virgin Islands’ suite at the U.S. Tennis Association’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. U.S.-based Virgin Islanders were introduced to the Territory’s Ambassador Program which harnesses the goodwill and resources of influential Virgin Islanders living abroad, and encourages them to promote travel to the USVI.
“Sports tourism continues to represent an important source of business for the Territory and we will continue to apply the full court press to woo more recreational and professional players to our islands,” said USVI Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty. She noted that in addition to Paradise Jams (held in November), the USVI were proud hosts of the Chrysler Cup Tennis Tournament (February), St. John 8 Tuff Miles Road Race (February), St. Croix Ironman Triathlon (May) and the St. Croix Coral Reef Swim (October).
The Department of Tourism’s presence at the US Open began in 2008 when it sponsored an “Agent Day” which successfully strengthened relationships with key travel agents. Each succeeding year the Department branched out to include different groups of influencers in an effort at reaching those playing key roles in the promotion of the Territory.
A strong supporter of Special Olympics, the First Lady launched Camp Shriver in 2007 in St. Thomas and St. Croix. Camp Shriver, initially established in the 1960s by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, is a two-week camp providing recreational activities for people with intellectual disabilities. She also is very involved in Tennis in the Parks and Schools (TIPS) which provides after-school tennis clinics throughout the Territory’s public parks and tennis coaching in the public elementary schools.