Islands marketing and communications specialist Ian Turnbull has been appointed the territory-wide director of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism’s new Division of Festivals.
Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte announced that Turnbull will oversee the running and marketing of all official events and festivals taking place in the Territory, including the upcoming Crucian Christmas Festival, to be held on St. Croix between Dec. 7, 2019, and Jan. 4, 2020.
Turnbull, who joins the department from the University of the Virgin Islands’ Reichhold Center for the Arts where he served as the marketing manager, is an accomplished marketing strategist, event manager, fundraiser and sales professional with extensive experience serving business, government and nonprofit entities. The tourism department’s special marketing assistant Shamari Haynes, and Halvor Hart have been appointed as assistant directors of festivals for St. Croix and St. Thomas, respectively.
“We are assembling an experienced, qualified team to market and promote our festivals,” said Commissioner Boschulte, who asserted that the department is working strategically to elevate the destination’s product, including the quality of the festival experiences.
“The potential of the festivals division to enhance our tourism product by energizing our diaspora to return home is encouraging. It is also a great platform upon which mainlanders and our Eastern Caribbean brothers and sisters, who have made the Virgin Islands their home, can invite their friends and families to experience our rich history and vibrant culture,” stated the commissioner.
Haynes, an ambassador of Virgin Islands culture, is the founder of St. Croix’s popular Simply Sophisticated Fun Troupe and brings a creative perspective to the promotion of the Territory’s experiences.
Hart, who previously served as executive director of the Virgin Islands Carnival Committee, is a former deputy commissioner of the Department of Property and Procurement with solid management and communications experience.
The Department of Tourism continues to work with members of the Virgin Islands Legislature and the Office of Management and Budget to secure funding to staff the Division of Festivals and the Virgin Islands Cultural Heritage Institute within the Department of Tourism. The assistant director of festivals for St. John will be announced at a later date.
Commissioner Boschulte thanked Assistant Commissioner of Tourism Elizabeth Hansen Watley, who had been serving as acting director of the division, for her work in laying a firm foundation for the division and helping with the transition to the new team. She now returns to her substantive role with the department.
The Division of Festivals is expected to plan and implement activities ranging from organizing events to rolling out an aggressive marketing campaign.
The U.S. Virgin Islands celebrates three major annual events that display the rich history and cultural heritage of the Territory: Virgin Islands Carnival (St. Thomas), St. John Festival and Crucian Christmas Festival (St. Croix). Each event features music performances, beauty pageants, sporting events and food fairs.