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March 18--Karolin Troubetzkoy, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, told members of the USVI Hotel and Tourism Association that Caribbean destinations need to "combine efforts" to create marketing that promotes the entire region.

Troubetzkoy was the keynote speaker at the association's annual meeting Friday, which took place at the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas.

She said many Caribbean islands and destinations reported increases in tourists last year, while just as many reported decreases. She said she hoped the U.S. Virgin Islands would see a "surge of interest in European travelers" with the pending Transfer Centennial celebration.

"You offer a lot more than sun, sand and sea," she said, and hotels and other businesses need to work to make visitors realize that it takes multiple visits to the region to see all of what the different islands offer.

She said islands and providers must convince travelers that they need to repeatedly return to build "a lifetime of unique experiences."

Troubetzkoy said all the region's destinations see the same challenges with growing tourism and planning long-term to address issues.

Those issues include climate change; safety and security; the high cost of importing food; and the high cost of airlift, she said.

She said Caribbean destinations must keep an eye on other popular, global destinations to make sure they are always offering top amenities and activities.

In her opening remarks, Lisa Hamilton, the president of the USVI Hotel and Tourism Association, told members and associates that they should not think their efforts to stymie the government's tax increases were a failure just because the Legislature passed the higher taxes and sent the bill on to the governor.

She said the association and the chamber of commerce were able to mobilize residents to march against the tax increases on St. Thomas and St. Croix, and she urged members to register to vote.

She said the association and others in the industry can make a difference in the next regularly scheduled Senate election if they continue to focus on issues important to the tourism industry and organize support.

"We're going to do full-court press" next election, she predicted.

The association approved by voice vote four board members as Hotel-Timeshare directors. They were Marco Ortlam of the Ritz-Carlton; Akhil Deshwal of Gallows Point Resort; Chris Donohue of The Marriott's Frenchman's Reef and Morning Star Beach Resort; and Ronald Maidens of Sugar Bay Resort and Spa.

The association approved by voice vote three allied directors. They were Judy Nagelberg of Islands Meetings and Incentives; Michael de Lugo of Concessions International; and Charlie Irons of IGY Yacht Haven Grande.

-- Contact Jonathan Austin at 340-714-9104 or email

jaustin@dailynews.vi.

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