British Virgin Islands review North American PR

TORTOLA, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS: The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board is reviewing submissions for PR representation in North America to promote the territory as a travel destination.

TORTOLA, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS: The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board is reviewing submissions for PR representation in North America to promote the territory as a travel destination.

The winning firm will be tasked with developing and executing a comprehensive, targeted PR campaign that will increase the number of US and Canadian middle-class tourists visiting the islands.

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

Travel to the islands dropped 11% between 2008 and 2011 to about 831,000, according to the RFP. Full figures for 2012 were not yet available, though information from the first quarter of last year indicated the downward trend had continued.

Maryland-based Partner Concepts is now promoting the islands in North America.

Initiating the review and potentially hiring a new firm is just one way in which the islands believe they can reverse the trend.

“We are seeking to reinvigorate our sales and marketing, as well as public relations efforts,” said Sharon Flax-Mars, director of tourism.

She added that Partner Concepts has been invited to re-bid. A representative from the firm did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Islands will task the winning firm with launching a campaign targeting middle- to upper-income consumers who want to experience different cultures, cuisine, and events in the Caribbean.

The scope of the contract spans strategic consulting and planning, media relations, events, and social media. Eight proposals have been submitted. Flax-Mars declined to release a potential budget for the account, which will run for one year. She said she hopes to make a selection by April 20.

The US Virgin Islands hired Development Counsellors International as its tourism marketing communications representative in December, replacing incumbent M Booth, which chose not to re-pitch for the account.

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