December 28, 2007

   

National travel broadcaster to air six shows from Virgin Islands
By LYNN FREEHILL
Friday, December 28th 2007


For the second time in as many months, a travel expert with a nationally syndicated radio program will broadcast live from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Stephanie Abrams, host of "Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams" and the featured travel authority on "Traveling Feet," will transmit six shows from St. Thomas and St. John resorts during January.

Abrams chose the USVI because she believes it is a misunderstood destination, she said in a statement.


Beach Sailboat

The United States is "so blessed to have this incredible island group as our own tropical paradise," she said, but since the vast majority of USVI visitors come by cruise ship, comparatively few people have stayed overnight in the territory.

"What's more tragic is that these cruise passengers now think they have seen the USVI," Abrams said. "The hors d'oeuvres of stopping for a few hours before running back to a cruise ship cannot give the traveler the sense of wonderment that comes from really spending time in the USVI, exploring the islands' beaches, mountaintops, and historic sites, and immersing one's spirit in this glorious destination."

Abrams plans to broadcast two shows each from Bolongo Bay Beach Resort, Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort and the Westin St. John Resort & Villas.

The radio personality first interviewed Richard Doumeng, Bolongo Bay managing director and V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association board chairman, seven or eight years ago, he said, and she was always enthusiastic about the territory's position under the U.S. flag.

This year, Doumeng said, Abrams contacted USVI hoteliers herself - dismayed that the territory's no-passports-required status was not as widely publicized as it could be, while a National Geographic Traveler survey's poor rating for St. Thomas was receiving more attention than she thought it should.

The consumer travel magazine, which reaches 7.8 million readers, in November placed the island at the bottom of its "Destination Scorecard" list of the world's most visited tourism spots, calling it overvisited by cruise passengers and "totally spoiled."

"Between the passport issue and then the National Geographic Traveler thing, she thought it was just crazy," Doumeng said. "She wasn't reading about the place that she knew."

Abrams, who set her own schedule, initially had planned to visit St. Croix first, Doumeng said. Having last spoken to her before Christmas, he said, he had not known that she had readjusted that plan. Even so, Doumeng believes that the publicity still will benefit the entire territory - particularly because over several weeks, she will hit the local highlights and the hidden spots alike.

"I really think the message is about the USVI," he said. "As long as they're on one of these three islands broadcasting nationally on the radio, it's all good stuff."

Earlier this month, another travel expert - Peter Greenberg, well-known as the travel editor on NBC's "Today Show" - broadcast one of his programs from The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas.

The two nationally syndicated radio shows, however, differ in tone. Greenberg strives for a more objective, less promotional presentation, often interviewing journalists and authors; Abrams says she intentionally avoids those types of guests, preferring people who directly provide experiences to travelers.

Abrams' slate of local interviewees still is being finalized.

She already has developed a list of "10 Compelling Reasons to Visit the V.I.," which is to be posted on her website.

The reasons Abrams names are: the English language and U.S. dollar currency; pristine waters for scuba, yachting and deep-sea fishing; family fun; romantic settings; a "photographer's paradise" boasting historic castles, lush tropical plants, spectacular mountaintop views; championship golf courses; spas; three diverse islands; lodgings for every lifestyle, expectation and budget from secluded luxury to beachcombers' condos; culinary options from beach barbecue lobster-bakes to fine dining; the $1,600 per person duty-free allowance; and the territory's no-passport-required status.

"Travel with Stephanie Abrams" airs live coast-to-coast on Sundays from 7-9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on the Business TalkRadio network and is re-broadcast at different times in certain markets. The show is streamed live at www.sabrams.com and www.businesstalkradio.net.

- Contact Lynn Freehill at 774-8772 ext. 311 or e-mail lfreehill@dailynews.vi.

- reposted from "http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/index.pl/article?id=17618904" -