The U.S. Virgin Islands made major strides by strengthening the Territory's position as a premier wedding destination in the Caribbean.
Following its successful hosting of a four-day Bridal Symposium in St. Thomas this week, the Department of Tourism reported renewed interest in the destination from travel sellers who used destination updates and promotions to drive weddings business to St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas.
"The weddings and honeymoon market is big business for us and has great growth potential," said Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty. The symposium showcased the diverse product of the islands while providing the opportunity for industry influencers to network with their local counterparts, she added.
The symposium, held July 9-12, attracted more than 60 attendees, including visiting journalists, wedding experts, travel agents specializing in destination weddings as well as local wedding industry professionals.
Sessions were moderated by celebrity television host Mar Jennings with discussions focused on business trends, wedding planning secrets, the benefits of bridal shows, post wedding etiquette, and how to make a destination wedding a seamless event.
Expert speakers included Millie Martini Bratten, a former executive of Brides Magazine; celebrity wedding planner Samantha Goldberg; the Caribbean's Jacqueline Johnson of the US-based Global Bridal Group and MarryCaribbean.com; Julia and Richard Markel of the Association for Wedding Professionals International; Anna Post of Emily Post Institute; Brenda O'Neale, Founder and President of With This Ring Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Travel Agency; and motivational speaker Simon T. Bailey.ÔøΩ
"The USVI Bridal Symposium has been by far one of the best educational experiences for travel consultants in the destination weddings and honeymoon market," said Cheryl Jones of Lez Go Travel in Atlanta.
Her comments were complemented by Richard Markel of the Association for Wedding Professionals International who described the U.S. Virgin Islands as "an awesome location for weddings and wedding professionals to do their business. We will definitely spread the word. The warmth of the people adds so much to the atmosphere."
Due to the success of the event, a second U.S. Virgin Islands Bridal Symposium is being planned for next year, in St. Croix.
For more information about the United States Virgin Islands, go to VisitUSVI.com, follow us on Twitter (@USVITourism) and become a fan on Facebook ÔøΩ(www.facebook.com/VisitUSVI). When traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. citizens enjoy all the conveniences of domestic travel - including on-line check-in - making travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands easier than ever. As a United States Territory, travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require a passport from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for all but U.S. citizens.