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Virgin Islands Re-Launches $3 Million ‘Real Nice’ Tourism Campaign

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — As travelers look to escape from the cold this winter, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism is supporting the territory’s private sector partners with the relaunch of a $3 million marketing campaign to stimulate travel to St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas in the coming months.

The highly anticipated “Real Nice” advertising campaign is back in full flight, after being on hiatus during Fiscal Year 2017-2018 due the devastating impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Leading up to the holiday season, two-thirds of the $3 million budget is being spent on cable television ads, with spots already in rotation across eight networks, including CNN, Discovery Channel, Food Network, Fox News, Hallmark Channel, Investigation Discovery, TLC, and Travel Channel.

As travelers begin to plan their winter getaways, the strategic goal behind the current efforts is to generate top-of-mind awareness for the Territory among active travelers seeking an authentic Caribbean experience.

The “Real Nice” production, which consisted of close to 100 percent on-island talent and crew, gives consumers a look inside the Virgin Islands lifestyle and how it can transform a vacation into a distinct cultural experience.

In addition to the $2 million television spend, $500,000 will be allocated to digital advertising and social media; a $350,000 social media program has been launched to promote accommodations accepting vacationers this season; and the remaining resources will be directed to cooperative marketing and print advertising in various market segments.

The Department of Tourism will heighten the Territory’s visibility on television and social media channels like Facebook and Instagram as well as print media throughout the campaign, with a focus on adventure travel, history, culinary tourism and the marine industry. The marketing campaign is expected to deliver more than 150 million paid media impressions and increase traffic to VisitUSVI.com.

The campaign was developed through a partnership between the Department’s advertising agency of record, J. Walter Thompson Atlanta (JWT), and local Virgin Islands company FilmVI.

Building upon almost $100 million in public relations value earned during FY 2017-2018, the Department will continue to strengthen its media relations activities and will host a number of writers for upcoming events, including this weekend’s St. Croix Triathlon and next year’s Agrifest in February. Plans are also in the works to host journalists for a territory-wide voluntourism trip, as well as “girls getaway” and social influencer trips in the new year. These influencer trips are bound to have the biggest impact, as the audiences of popular social media figures are huge, meaning it’s one of the most lucrative forms of marketing out there. Most marketing companies now offer influencer services to boost brands, so it will be interesting to see how it impacts this campaign.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 50 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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