The United States Virgin Islands declared diversity was key to strengthening their marketing and pledged to continue to actively pursue the robust African American market in the United States.
The announcement was made yesterday at the African American Museum in Philadelphia by Luana Wheatley, Assistant Director of Communications for the USVI Department of Tourism.
The seasoned public relations professional from the U.S. Virgin Islands confirmed the huge value of the specialized African American community when she addressed the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Founders’ Reception.
Wheatley congratulated the leading journalists’ organization on its 36th Convention and Career Fair, and signaled the continued commitment of the Territory to working with journalists of color across the United States to highlight the history, heritage, natural beauty, shopping and attractions of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“Our tourism team is especially excited both about our new partnership with NABJ, our historic relationship with the African American media, and about attracting many more African American travelers to our shores. Consider the U.S. Virgin Islands your home away from home when you come,” Wheatley told NABJ members.
According to Target Market News, in 2009, black households spent an estimated US $507 billion in 27 product and services categories. That’s an increase of 16.6% over the $435 billion spent in 2008. African-Americans’ total earned income for 2009 is estimated at $836 billion.
African American and Caribbean people share many things in common, Wheatley observed. Many African Americans, from basketball star Tim Duncan to Attorney General Eric Holder (who addressed NABJ’s convention this week), trace their roots to the Caribbean.
“We share a common history and a symbiotic culture – and as a destination we look forward to building on our natural synergies,” she asserted.
Details of the new partnership include encouraging NABJ members to write about the U.S. Virgin Islands during press trips to the Territory; developing tours that highlight common African heritage; special rates at selected hotels and resorts for journalists on assignment; exploring the possibility of future NABJ meetings and conventions in the Territory; and encouraging media exchanges across news rooms in both the USVI and the United States.
The Founders’ Reception recognized the 44 men and women who gathered at an historic meeting on December 12, 1975, in Washington, D.C. to form NABJ.
Hundreds of journalists in the City of Brotherly Love were treated to the Department of Tourism presentation of the sights, sounds and flavors of the Territory. Local entertainment included mocko jumbies, a steel pan player and Cruzan Rum sampling.