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Mapp Says Territory’s Hotels Must Kowtow To Chinese Tourists With Luxury Robes, Slippers and In-Room Noodle Service If We Want Beijing’s Business

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Kimberly McCollum (left) and Shane Gaspard
CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Gov. Kenneth Mapp dubbed his trip to China a success as he briefed those assembled at Government House in St. Thomas on Tuesday.
Mapp said that the trade mission to China was part of his multi-faceted approach to economic development. The governor also noted that these are in no way meant to replace the current plans that are already in effect for the growth of the territory’s economy.
The delegation explored industrial development related to storage and refining activity, tourism development as a result of Sinopec investments, the financial service sector businesses related to EDC benefits and private investment for the development of hotels on both St. Thomas and St. Croix.
Mapp highlighted Sinopec’s plans along with significant investments for the big island of St. Croix. He said  that Sinopec’s investment in the Virgin Islands will result in hundreds of new jobs for the territory.
The Governor offered measured indication of the scope of the Sinopec commitment by describing the increase in storage capacity as “north of 50 million barrels.”
The Beijing-based company plans to invest in increased oil storage capacity at the Limetree Bay Terminal site on St. Croix’s south shore. They are currently assessing the equipment and facilities in anticipation of the possibility of resuming refining at the former HOVENSA site.
The Governor stated that while in China the delegation visited an older refinery operation that had been fully modernized by Sinopec.
Mapp also said that he anticipated receiving a formal proposal from the company that includes details about employment opportunities.
“There is a commitment to get this in full gear over the next three years,” he said.
Commissioner of Tourism, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, was a part of the delegation meeting with some prominent companies in the Chinese travel sector. She is also working to develop a relationship with Air China which will begin to attract Chinese tourists to the territory, Mapp reported previously. He stated that additional visitors from China are anticipated with Sinopec’s expanded investment in St. Croix.
The U.S. Embassy reported that more than 10 million visas are issued annually to Chinese nationals visiting the United States, with more than 3 million granted to those traveling for pleasure.
Mapp said that some of the unique amenities that are required by the typical affluent Chinese traveler are luxury robes, slippers, and access to in room noodle service.
Chinese tourists, who typically want to engage in high end shopping experiences would expect options for dining that include traditional Chinese menus.
After the Governor spoke, Chamber of Commerce Board Member, Shane Gaspard, took the podium and said his recent trip to China as part of the trade mission led by Mapp gave him a “new perspective” on the focus and hard work put in by the Governor and his staff as they engaged in a full schedule of meetings with officials and business leaders.
“I think the business community should be very excited about the steps we took in China,” Gaspard  said. “I know I am.”
Gaspard, who is the Chief Operating Officer for Southland Gaming, was among the private sector participants in the trip along with St. Croix Chamber of Commerce President, Kimberly McCollum, who is also the owner of Island Services Group.
McCollum said she looked forward to additional investment and business activity on St. Croix.
“I personally spoke with representatives of Sinopec and Unipec and they are very sincere,” McCollum said.
McCollum was also pleased by Sinopec’s stated commitment to environmental protection at the storage terminal and refinery.
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John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region since 1989. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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