Connect with us

Tourism

Partial Budget Allocation Revives V.I. Dept. of Tourism Operations

Published

on

The Virgin Islands Department of Tourism (D.O.T.) received a crucial partial budget release on Tuesday, providing a lifeline for essential operations over the next three months. This crucial funding allows the department to maintain key services and settle some pending vendor payments.

Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jenifer O’Neal confirmed the development during a WTJX Radio interview. “The department now has access to their fiscal year 2024 budget, at least for three months,” Ms. O’Neal explained. “This includes October, November, and December funds, now available in the ERP system, enabling immediate spending.”

This development follows intense scrutiny and reporting by the Consortium on the prolonged delay of D.O.T.’s budget, which led to operational challenges and workforce reductions. Senator Donna Frett-Gregory, a vocal advocate for resolving the funding impasse, has communicated concerns to the Dept. of Finance and OMB leaders, urging a swift resolution.

Sources revealed to the Consortium that Ms. O’Neal expressed frustration with the D.O.T. and Dept. of Finance for alleged excessive spending by the D.O.T. The exact amount of this overspending, rumored to be in the tens of millions, remains unclear, as is the Department of Tourism’s stance on these claims. Efforts to reach Joseph Boschulte, D.O.T. Commissioner, for comments have been unsuccessful.

Senator Frett-Gregory, chairing the influential Committee on Budget, Appropriations, and Finance, intends to hold a Senate hearing to delve deeper into this issue. Key officials from OMB, Dept. of Finance, and Dept. of Tourism are expected to testify.

The D.O.T.’s budget, primarily funded by the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund (TARF) from Hotel Occupancy Tax revenues, was proposed at $32.1 million by the Bryan administration for FY2024. This funding is vital for the department to stay competitive in the tourism market. Despite the hold on its budget, which hindered financial commitments for months, the recent release of funds is a welcome relief for vendors. However, the extent to which the three-month allocation will cover the backlog of operations and vendor invoices is yet to be determined.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tourism

Virginia Couple Pursues Legal Action Against Emerald Beach Resort After Harrowing Encounter

Published

on

A legal battle unfolds as a Virginia couple takes Emerald Beach Corporation to court, accusing the establishment of negligence and racial discrimination. The lawsuit, lodged in the Virgin Islands District Court, stems from a distressing episode where the plaintiffs were reportedly assaulted on the premises by an individual with a history of violence.

The case centers on Raekoi Evans, who, after an altercation on Lindbergh Bay Beach in April 2022 escalated into a violent encounter, was apprehended. Evans admitted to aggravated assault and battery in September 2023, receiving a suspended sentence of one year, followed by supervised probation, and was ordered to compensate the victims $3,182.25.

The lawsuit further implicates an Emerald Beach security guard and the resort itself, holding them accountable for the damages incurred during the incident. Court filings detail how the plaintiffs encountered Evans and the security guard in a heated exchange that quickly deteriorated, leading to a physical confrontation.

Despite efforts by the security to disperse the gathering, Evans allegedly persisted, later confronting the couple with a group that escalated the situation into violence. The aftermath saw the couple seeking refuge and assistance within the resort, claims of inadequate response from the staff have also surfaced, alleging a delayed action to their plight.

The narrative takes a critical turn, highlighting a post-assault interaction between the security guard and the assailants, suggesting a potential negligence in identifying or holding the other participants accountable. The plaintiffs argue that the resort’s reaction was influenced by their guest status, revealing a concerning layer of alleged discrimination based on racial assumptions.

Legal actions against Evans include charges of emotional distress, battery, and assault, reflecting the severity of his actions. The security guard faces accusations of negligence for not preemptively addressing the threats and allowing known agitators on the premises. The overarching claim against Emerald Beach Resort addresses a broader issue of negligence and alleged discriminatory practices, questioning the safety and inclusivity of its operations.

The legal proceedings aim to secure general and punitive damages, emphasizing the gravity of the allegations against Evans, the security guard, and Emerald Beach Resort. The defendants’ response to these serious accusations remains pending, as the case continues to develop.

Continue Reading

Tourism

The U.S. Virgin Islands Seek Prestige at the World Travel Awards

Published

on

The Department of Tourism of the U.S. Virgin Islands has jubilantly shared news of its nominations for the celebrated World Travel Awards, an initiative that honors the best in the global travel, tourism, and hospitality industries.

Celebrating its 31st anniversary, the World Travel Awards are renowned for spotlighting the premier destinations and services in the sector. The Department of Tourism is rallying support from locals, those abroad with ties to the islands, and travel aficionados to back the U.S. Virgin Islands in this prestigious competition. Assistant Commissioner Alani Henneman expressed enthusiasm about the nominations, stating, “The World Travel Awards are a hallmark of quality within the travel sector, and we’re thrilled at the chance to stand among the elite, showcasing the unique offerings of our region. We urge everyone to cast their vote and demonstrate why the U.S. Virgin Islands stands out as a top Caribbean destination.”

The nominations celebrate the U.S. Virgin Islands’ magnetic appeal, highlighting categories such as Leading Beach Destination, Leading Destination, and Most Romantic Destination. Additionally, the nominations for Frenchman’s Reef – Morningstar Buoy Haus Beach Resort, Autograph Collection, and the Westin Beach Resort & Spa in the Leading New Resort category underscore the islands’ commitment to enhancing its luxury accommodations.

The Department is also proud to announce nominations in the Leading Resort and Leading Destination Management Company categories, calling on the international community to support the U.S. Virgin Islands in achieving these distinguished awards.

To lend your support to the U.S. Virgin Islands or for more details about the nominations, visit the official tourism website at https://www.visitusvi.com/.

Continue Reading

Tourism

Over 45 Million Reached in Dept. of Tourism’s Latest U.S. Virgin Islands Promotion

Published

on

The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism recently celebrated a major milestone in its efforts to attract more visitors to its shores. Commissioner Joseph Boschulte announced the success of their satellite media tour, which broadcasted the allure of the islands to an extensive audience across the United States on January 18th. The campaign, which spanned cities from Atlanta to Los Angeles, was featured in 428 airings, captivating approximately 45.8 million viewers.

Commissioner Boschulte expressed his excitement about the tour’s widespread impact, saying, “It brings us great pleasure to extend an invitation to millions, showcasing our islands as the quintessential Caribbean getaway that’s easily accessible for U.S. travelers.” He highlighted the unique blend of breathtaking natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and historical depth that the U.S. Virgin Islands offer.

The media blitz introduced several key attractions and developments, including the debut of luxury resorts such as the Morningstar Buoy Haus Beach Resort at Frenchman’s Reef, Autograph Collection, and the Westin Beach Resort & Spa at Frenchman’s Reef on St. Thomas. Additionally, the tour spotlighted the novel Jetcar rentals by VI Exotic Watersports, promising an adventurous experience on the islands’ azure waters.

A focal point of the campaign was the convenience for U.S. citizens traveling to the islands, emphasizing the no-passport-required policy for those flying in from the mainland or Puerto Rico and highlighting direct flight options from major cities.

Boschulte also shed light on the diverse array of activities available across the U.S. Virgin Islands. From the hiking trails of St. John and the pristine beaches like Honeymoon Beach to the world-renowned golf courses and diving spots in St. Croix, and the vibrant shopping and dining scene in St. Thomas. He further noted the appeal of upcoming cultural events such as the St. Croix Annual Agriculture & Food Festival, St. Thomas Carnival, and St. John Celebration, drawing attention to the islands’ rich cultural calendar.

For those interested in exploring the U.S. Virgin Islands and planning their visit, the Department of Tourism invites you to learn more through their official website at https://www.visitusvi.com/.

Continue Reading

Trending