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March 31, 2004

Travel magazine's survey rates V.I. tops in 8 categories

The U.S. Virgin Islands was No. 1 in eight "Best of the Caribbean" categories in a survey issued to readers of Caribbean Travel & Life Magazine.

"We are very pleased by the performances of our properties," said Beverly Nicholson, president of the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel and Tourism Association. "Taking eight categories speaks to the fact that, overall, our destination is superb and we have a lot to offer."

Click here for the whole article

Posted by afinta at 08:34 AM

March 30, 2004

Busy Days In The USVI

Well it was a busy few days here. On Thursday Shaun Pennington of the VI Source on-line newspapers hosted a great event at the Marriott for what seemed to be hundreds of people. The event was called "e-volving" and was a mix of how to's and what's happening on the Internet, how it affects the way we work and get our news, and how it has changed and is changing our lives. It was a very informative event, and even this ten year Web pro picked up on some new tricks. Speakers included Jean Etsinger, the VI Source Senior Editor, Steve Parrish, the new VP of Operations at ATN (Choice Communications), Frank Barnako of CBS Marketwatch (but more importantly to me author and publisher of "News of St. John"), Evan Edwards of OnePaper (the back end system that runs the source) and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Antigua native and former VI resident Melvin Claxton, now an investigative reporter for the Detroit News.

The event was from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM with a very nice buffet lunch in-between. I didn't agree with everything Steve Parrish had to say on the evolution of the Internet and thought it was strange that he actually suggested using older versions of Windows (like 95 and 98) to avoid viruses and other security issues that the Web seems to be responsible for increasing. I wanted to tell him about another OS (Macintosh OSX) but he didn't seem like the kind of guy who was going to listen to that idea :(

Steve also touched on a pet peeve of mine when he said something to the effect that the Web didn't take off until a "free" graphical browser became available, Mosaic. I am going to go a little off the rails a little here so please forgive me. Mosaic was developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois. This is a government funded lab (although there is a private sector component also), and most of the work and research carried out there gets done on the taxpayer's dime. To me, saying that Mosaic was a "free" product glosses over a huge problem with how business is done in the US and how tax payers get shorted when government sponsored R&D pays off. Anyone interested in the history of the Web needs to know the name Marc Andreesen (for background on what I am talking about see this bio). To oversimplify the story: Andreesen invents Mosaic while working at the lab, Andreesen leaves and ends up starting Netscape with Jim Clarke, and some of the Mosaic team get hired by Bill Gates and we end up with Internet Explorer. The big problem for me is that these guys basically took the technologies that they developed in the government labs on tax payers money and then went on to form one of the largest wealth creation machines of all time. Why wasn't the University compensated? Why weren't all US taxpayers given a dividend check? This is just one example of this perverse kind of corporate welfare. Like I said, it is a pet peeve, and I just think I guy like Steve Parrish, if he is going to be making public presentations should have a little better grasp of the facts or avoid spinning them is a silly and irresponsible way.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming:

I really enjoyed Frank Barnako's talk, he is very passionate about the Internet and really "gets" the potential of what it can do, and is always finding out about new things. I forgot to tell Frank that one of the technologies he talked about, Netcaptor (http://www.netcaptor.com/), is actually built into the Apple Web Browser Safari, where basically the same functionality is called "tabbed browsing". Maybe we can convert Frank to the Macintosh after we are done with Steve. He had the room scratching their heads with his talk of "blogs" and RSS feeds. After the presentation I was confronted by some people who wanted to know just what the hell a blog was - well, you're reading one!

Melvin Claxton's presentation was very interesting, but some people I talked to later (yes, anonymous sources, I sound like a journalist) found the fairly naked bashing of Jeffrey Prosser (owner of the Daily News and Innovative Communications) a little bit out of place (there is a fairly long and some bitter history between Prosser and many other Virgin Islanders involved in the news and communications industry).

Overall though a wonderful event, with something for everyone and a great turn out. Thank you Shaun Pennington!

Moving on to Friday, the Rolex Regatta began at the St. Thomas Yacht Club. My wife participated this year which was quite a challenge as I was attending the eleventh annual Virgin Islands Destination Symposium, an event that basically brings the top travel wholesalers together with Hotel Association members for a few days of not stop business and fun. The event is continuing on St. Croix today and tomorrow.

It began Saturday evening at the Great House with the Governor's Dinner hosted by Mr. Edward Thomas (when is he going to run for governor?) of the West Indian Company, and then was an all day affair on Sunday at the Wyndham Sugar Bay, with a sail on Bolongos Bay's Heavenly days stuffed in between dinner at Caneel Bay on St. John. About a 16 hour day for those who attended all events (and people think you don't work when you live in the Caribbean). Sunday's session at the Wyndham included and overview of the newly renamed Virgin Islands Hotel and Tourism Association Marketing plan, and overview of the DOT's marketing plan, and a best practices presentation and discussion given by many of the territories largest tour operators. Yesterday was the one on one meeting between wholesalers/tour operators and hotels, with the final night on St. Thomas dinner and Party at the Reef. The food and show were spectacular. They really have a great banquet staff at the Reef now, I believe the head chef is Kevin Goodchild, and they did an outstanding job. Whole roasted suckling pigs, whole fried Grouper and Snapper, Lobster tails, leg of lamb, sushi bar, and amazing giant cauldron of 4 kinds of curry and rice - the food was just fantastic as was the presentation and the service.

This morning delegates have a farewell breakfast at the Holiday Inn and spend some time shopping in town before heading off to St. Croix.

So that was what happened here the last few days that I know about. The Rolex ended Sunday. I have not seen my wife for more than five minutes since Thursday so maybe I will post an update with some details on the regatta if she has any for me.

Posted by afinta at 10:47 AM | Comments (2)

March 23, 2004

Forums on compilation of Danish, V.I. archives begin Tuesday

From the Daily News:

Virgin Islanders and international researchers interested in the territory's history from the Danish colonial period through modern times can learn more about efforts to bring a comprehensive collection of archives here during public forums beginning Tuesday.

The U.S. Virgin Islands-Denmark Bilateral Archival Commission, a group of historians and archivists from the territory, Denmark and the United States, was formed on Oct. 27, 1999.

Headed by the Danish National Archives and the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources, the commission's task is to survey and create inventories of their collection "with a view to supporting cultural, historical and genealogical activities," according to a proclamation signed by Gov. Charles Turnbull.

The inventory so far includes 11 reels of microfilm dealing with slavery and emancipation dating from 1672 to 1917 from the U.S. National Archives and a finder's guide that lists sources of Danish West Indies history from 1671 to 1917.


In addition to reporting on the status of the archival project, public discussions are being organized in response to debates and disputes over colonial land records, estate boundaries, wills and probates.

The first public forum will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Legislature building on St. John. The second forum will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday at Government House on St. Thomas.

According to Myron Jackson, director of the Virgin Islands State Historic Preservation Office, information still is being recorded from the mainland and the territory.


This includes several documents that were sent to Denmark and to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., when the territory switched hands, as well as historical files at several libraries of the territory's church records, land records and baptismal records.

Hopes are that documents and archives from several depositories eventually will be repatriated to the territory, Jackson said.

The Danish government appropriated $200,000 for the project, and DPNR was tasked with executing the project using its own funds and resources. Jackson said equipment has cost DPNR more than $100,000.

"It's important for many people to understand their historical past," Jackson said. "The Danes were very meticulous in record-keeping, but not many countries, not many nations have that information available that can assist them."

A proclamation declaring March as Virgin Islands-Denmark Friendship Month, signed by Turnbull, recognized this year's 87th anniversary of the transfer and the territory's historical ties to Denmark and ancestral ties to West Africa through the slave trade.

"The longstanding relationship between the kingdom of Denmark and the former Danish West Indies serves as a foundation for a new and exciting partnership between Denmark and the U.S. Virgin Islands," the proclamation states.

For more information, call 776-8605 or 773-1082.

Posted by afinta at 11:00 AM | Comments (4)

March 18, 2004

Italian cruise ship to visit St. Croix

By AESHA DUVAL
Wednesday, March 17th 2004

ST. CROIX - An Italian cruise line will call on St. Croix beginning in December, V.I. Tourism Department officials said Tuesday.

Tourism Commissioner Pamela Richards, in a written statement, said MSC Italian Cruises will make seven visits to St. Croix from Dec. 8 to March 3, 2005.

Click here for the whole article

Posted by afinta at 09:40 AM

March 15, 2004

Demolition Begins

They started to tear down the old Yacht Haven. This is good news. The new project can only help the island. Here are some links to stories about it:

http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/index.pl/article_home?id=4361957

http://www.onepaper.com/stthomasvi/?v=d&i=&s=News:Local&p=1075613077

Posted by afinta at 09:44 PM

March 11, 2004

Researchers say Virgin Islands' fish population is dangerously low

Wednesday, March 10, 2004
By Mat Probasco, Associated Press

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands — Fish populations in the underwater national monument around St. John and elsewhere in the U.S. Virgin Islands are so sparse that they may not be sustainable, marine biologists said.

U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researchers concluded two weeks of study last weekend at the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument in St. John and the Buck Island Reef National Monument off St. Croix.

Click here to read the whole article

Posted by afinta at 04:00 PM | Comments (1)

March 10, 2004

The Return of Gordon Ackley

Gordon Ackley is selling high speed wireless and modem Internet access in the USVI. He is currently offering a dial up service called surfVI - you can check it out here. It is guerilla style modem access - no tech support but low prices and a full featured account for those that know how to use it. He also is offering a high speed wireless solution called BIGsurf.

Ackley sold VIAccess to Atlantic Tele-Networks (Choice Communitcations) in 1999. Now that the non-compete terms of that deal have expired he is excited to get back into the business of providing Internet access in the US Virgin Islands.

Posted by afinta at 01:27 PM

March 09, 2004

Rumors

I am getting vibes about Martin PR no longer being the PR agency for the USVI - has anyone heard anything about this? Also still wondering if there is any news about who bought Caneel?

Posted by afinta at 12:05 PM

March 08, 2004

More Good News!!!

Happy things just won't stop today:

Schneider Hospital's neonatologist featured in Lifetime magazine

ST. THOMAS - Dr. Beverly Banks Randall, director of Schneider Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, is now a featured personality in a national women's magazine.

Lifetime magazine, a national publication affiliated with Lifetime Television, sent two professional photographers to St. Thomas this week for a half-day photo shoot in the hospital.

Read the whole article here!

Posted by afinta at 06:21 PM

One of the problems with corporate media...

Check out this story. The first sentence:

"Most people travel to St. John to bask in the luxury of five-star resorts, dine in expensive restaurants and get tanked at shiny bars with ocean views."

Could anything be less true? 5 star resorts? Plural?!? Well, let's see, there's Caneel, and - uhm, Caneel. Oh, and Caneel. Shiny bars?? SHINY? I don't even know what that means... (OK I know what the word "shiny" means but not when relating to a bar on St. John).

Is this really an article written by someone with any interest in St. John (maybe some interest, the article does get a little better after the first sentence), or is it just some more crap they can add some ads too? Stuff like this really annoys me (obviously). I have a giant pet peeve with writers who have to write, even when they know nothing about what they are writing.

Posted by afinta at 11:45 AM | Comments (6)

Tax Evasion Update

The man who was caught illegally benefiting from an EDC company has made his local news. You can read the whole article here. The article makes some interesting points (and some mistakes I think) and it also names the company, which the prosecutors did not do. If this really is the tip of the iceberg than I think it could start to put a little chill on the local economy and the real estate market. I may be speaking against the tide here but from what I have heard there are a lot of people who are gaming the system like this - and convictions have a way of scaring people. This is not to say that there are plenty of companies that have come to the VI and use the EDC laws properly, but in the very long run I still can't see how this program is not going to be looked at harder by Washington and the IRS.

Posted by afinta at 10:46 AM

More Good News

Columbus landing site added to park
By AYESHA MORRIS
Thursday, March 4th 2004

The site of Christopher Columbus' only documented landing in the United States has been purchased by the Virgin Islands government for $2.2 million and added to the Salt River National Historic Park and Ecological Preserve.

The move brings an end to a 10-year effort to buy the 8.5 acres within National Park boundaries from private landowners. The property includes a two-story, 5,800-square-foot house on a hill, which will be transformed into a visitor center and museum.

Click here for the whole article

Posted by afinta at 10:15 AM

Good News for St. Croix

Inaugural Denmark-St. Croix charter flight already sold out
By AESHA DUVAL
Wednesday, March 3rd 2004

ST. CROIX - In one month, St. Croix will begin to see an influx of Danish tourists - and their money - with the arrival of the first charter flight from Copenhagen, Denmark.

The 230 passengers on the inaugural flight, which already is sold out, will arrive on St. Croix on April 2.

Click here for the whole article

Posted by afinta at 10:11 AM