When visitors to St. John arrive at the ferry dock, they will soon be greeted by a friendly face — and a complimentary sample of Cruzan Rum.
A joint project between the St. John Chapter of the St. Thomas/St. John Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Tourism, the tourism greeter program will feature residents positioned on the secure side of the Loredon Boynes ferry dock welcoming visitors to Love City.
Nine greeters have already been hired and trained and officials expect the program to be launched soon – as long as a booth is constructed.
While DOT will cover the greeters’ salary, the department doesn’t have enough funds to build a structure where the greeters will be based, explained the ST/SJ Chamber of Commerce’s St. John representative Kate Norfleet.
“Tourism does have a budget from the government but it isn’t a lot of money especially for all the goals they have,” said Norfleet. “They got an estimate of $4,500 from an individual on St. Thomas to build a booth and they just don’t have that kind of budget.”
MSI owner — and ST/SJ Chamber of Commerce president — Tom Brundt has agreed to donate the materials for the booth and officials are now looking for volunteers to help with construction.
“We need to have some sort of way to store a cooler and cups and present the rum,” Norfleet said. “We’re just looking for a little covered shaded area where the greeters can stand and some storage space.”
Chamber officials are compiling island information for greeters to distribute, but will not be promoting any businesses, Norfleet added.
“We’re not promoting one business over another,” she said. “The greeters will be there to give a positive, happy welcome to St. John. We’re trying to get a government-issued map, but no one specific business or publication will be presented.”
As the project gets underway, chamber officials hope to have additional greeters positioned at the Cruz Bay Creek area to welcome cruise ship guests, explained Cid Hamling, a member of the St. John Chapter of the ST/SJ Chamber.
“It’s overwhelming for people who come in off the cruise ship tenders — they don’t know where to go,” said Hamling. “The plan is to have someone greeting them and offering information about where to go and where things are.”
The tourism greeter program’s success is an example of hard work and collaboration, Hamling added.
“It’s really been Kate Norfleet and the Chamber of Commerce, Debbie Hime and St. John Administrator Leona Smith working on this,” Hamling said. “We weren’t just going to sit down on this one. We really wanted to see it happen and it’s exciting.”
Anyone willing to help build the greeters’ booth should call Hamling at Connections at 776-6922 or Norfleet at 693-9099.