British Virgin Islands picks M Booth for US, Canada PR

The territory brought on two agencies to represent it in North and South America, with the goal of appealing more often to middle-class travelers.

TORTOLA, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS: The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board has selected two firms to represent it in North America and various South American countries.

M Booth will provide PR representation in the US and Canada to promote the territory as a travel destination. The scope of its contract includes developing and executing a comprehensive, targeted PR campaign to increase the number of middle-class tourists visiting the islands. Components of the account include strategic consulting and planning, media relations, events, and social media.

For nearly two decades, the British Virgin Islands has been promoted as an upscale, luxury brand. As a result, it is “perceived as expensive and unattainable for many visitors,” according to the RFP for the contract.

M Booth has experience in the region. It represented the neighboring US Virgin Islands for five years before declining to re-pitch for that contract last year.

The agency beat 10 other firms in contention for the British Virgin Islands' contract. Terms of the deal are unknown because it has not been finalized, said Sharon Flax-Mars, director of tourism for the territory.

“M Booth is quite aggressive in its public relations approach and quite innovative. Bi-coastal offices are important, as well, because the West Coast is an important demographic for us,” Flax-Mars said about the firm's selection.

The agency has replaced Annapolis, MD-based Partner Concepts, which had represented the territory since 2009. Travel to the islands dropped 11% between 2008 and 2011 to about 831,000, according to the RFP.

Representatives from Partner Concepts and M Booth did not return requests for comment.

The tourism board also selected JG Black Book to raise awareness of the destination in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Mexico.

This spring, British Virgin Islands Premier Orlando Smith conducted a trade mission to Brazil in a bid to increase tourism. During a press conference in August, he said that making inroads there would give the British Virgin Islands a platform to launch initiatives in other Latin American countries such as Argentina and Chile.

PR Links Communications of Puerto Rico had previously provided mild support in South American, Flax-Mars said.

A representative from the firm did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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