U.S. Virgin Islands Supports its Local Businesses with Training Webinars USVI Department on Tourism’s ongoing Destination Optimization program includes helping business maximize their exposure on Google and USVI.com St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) – May 15, 2023 USVI Department of Tourism has taken another step in its continued effort to provide value to and support its local business partners to maximize their exposure and conversion online. Specifically, the USVI Department of Tourism invited members of the St. Croix Hotel & Tourism Association and the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism Association to virtual workshops to help businesses improve their online presence on Google and visitUSVI.com. The webinars will take place on May 19 and is free to local hotels, restaurants and attractions who were looking to make their business more visible and accessible to visitors online. There are expected to be more than 75 attendees on the live webinars and the sessions will be recorded for access by businesses who could not make the live event. During the webinars, attendees will learn what their Google Business Profile is and how it is surfaced in Google search and travel products. Direction will be provided on how to claim and verify a business profile and keep core business data such as website, hours and contact information current. This listing information, as well as business photos, is also featured on visitUSVI.com, the official travel planning website for the destination. The Destination Optimization training sessions are also available online at the USVI Virtual Tourism Business Marketing Academy at USVI.AcademyForTourism.com Business owners can register for access to a self-paced online program. Also, the USVI Department of Tourism is making specialists available to businesses as they work to maximize their online exposure on VisitUSVI.com and Google. Businesses can book a one-on-one office hours session with the specialists. All these services are free for USVI tourism businesses. USVI Commissioner, Joseph Boschulte, said “Our local businesses, including restaurants, tour providers, hotels, entertainment, and cultural event planners are the tourism ambassadors to our three beautiful islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John. This hands-on training is a part of USVI’s Destination Optimization Program (DOP) to help our partners promote themselves and create a positive visitor experience across major travel planning platforms.” According to Phocuswright’s Consumer Travel Research: Research of US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand & Key Western European Travel Markets, more than 90% of consumers use Google as a part of their travel planning process. The Google/Ipsos research: Benefits of a Complete Listing states that complete and current Google business profiles are 2.7 times more likely to be considered reputable by a potential customer, 70% more likely to lead to a location visit, and 50% more likely to lead to a purchase. VisitUSVI.com is the official online travel planning resource for the community. Data from the Google Application Programming Interface (API) is being used to generate the business profiles on VisitUSVI.com, making the completeness and quality of a business’ Google business profile that much more important to its exposure and the conversion of searchers to visitors. About the U.S. Virgin Islands About 40 miles east of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands comprise a United States territory located in the northeastern Caribbean Sea. The three islands are St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, where the capital of Charlotte Amalie is located. Perfect for leisure or business travel, the U.S. Virgin Islands features breathtaking, world-renowned beaches, an international marine industry, European architecture, and a burgeoning restaurant industry. No passports are required from U.S. citizens traveling from the U.S. mainland or Puerto Rico. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are equivalent to entering the United States from any international country. Upon departure, a passport is required for non-U.S. citizens. For more information about the United States Virgin Islands, go to www.VisitUSVI.com, follow us on Instagram (@visitusvi) and Twitter (@usvitourism), and become a fan on Facebook (www.facebook.com/VisitUSVI).