NEW YORK (Aug. 25, 2011)-The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) is redoubling its efforts to tap the robust African-American market in the United States.

Luana Wheatley, assistant director of communications for the USVI Department of Tourism, reaffirmed the huge potential of the African-American community when she addressed the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Founders’ Reception at the African American Museum in Philadelphia earlier this month.

The territory joined hands with NABJ’s executive leadership to host the first-ever Founders’ Reception, which recognized 44 of the trailblazers who laid the groundwork in 1975 for what has evolved into one of America’s largest and most influential media organizations.

Colorfully adorned mocko jumbies, stilt walkers, gyrating to the sounds of live steel pan music, welcomed guests to the reception. Philadelphia residents passing by, including pedestrians, cyclists, taxi drivers and even members of law enforcement, were pleasantly surprised by the Caribbean music and dazzling costumes.

“We are very thankful to NABJ and the city of Philadelphia for allowing us to showcase the spirit of the U.S. Virgin Islands to such an important group of discerning professionals,” said Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson.

“Our tourism team is especially excited both about our new partnership with NABJ, our historic relationship with the African-American media and about attracting many more African-American travelers to our shores. Consider the U.S. Virgin Islands your home away from home when you come,” Wheatley told NABJ members.

Details of the new partnership include encouraging NABJ members to write about the USVI during press trips to the territory; developing tours that highlight common African heritage; special rates at selected hotels and resorts for journalists on assignment; exploring the possibility of future NABJ meetings and conventions in the territory; and encouraging media exchanges across newsrooms in both the USVI and the United States.

According to Target Market News, in 2009, Black households spent an estimated $507 billion in 27 product and services categories. That’s an increase of 16.6 percent over the $435 billion spent in 2008. African-Americans’ total earned income for 2009 was estimated at $836 billion.