6 7 DEMAND FOR LUXURY AND UPSCALE CARIBBEAN ACCOMMODATIONS ON THE RISE, SAYS EXPEDIA G lobal travel platform Expedia Group has shared the company’s latest insight for the Caribbean based on data pertaining to star-rated properties in the region. The findings, which analyzed data from resorts and hotels located throughout the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and The Bahamas, reveal that demand for five- and four-star classified properties has increased year-over-year in the first three quarters of 2018; furthermore, four-star rated properties are the most popular category across the three island destinations. Expedia analyzed various data points related to star-rating including growth, booking windows, mobile demand growth and length of stay.In addition to the $2 million television spend, $500,000 will be allocated to digital advertising and social media; a $350,000 social media program has been launched to promote accommodations accepting vacationers this season; and the remaining resources will be directed to cooperative marketing and print advertising in various market segments. The Department of Tourism will heighten the territory’s visibility on television and social media channels like Facebook and Instagram as well as print media throughout the OPENING LINES campaign, with a focus on adventure travel, history, culinary tourism and the marine industry. The marketing campaign is expected to deliver more than 150 million paid media impressions and increase traffic to VisitUSVI. com. The campaign was developed through a partnership between the Department’s advertising agency of record, J. Walter Thompson Atlanta (JWT), and local Virgin Islands company, FilmVI. Building upon almost $100 million in public relations value earned during FY 2017-2018, the Department will continue to strengthen its media relations activities and will host a number of writers for upcoming events, including the St. Croix Triathlon and Agrifest in February. Plans are also in the works to host journalists for a territory-wide voluntourism trip, as well as “Girls’ Getaway” and social influencer trips in the New Year. Dominican Republic: Excelling in high-end vacations According to the latest numbers released by Dominican Republic’s central bank, the country’s tourism sector is surging after receiving over five million international arrivals from January to September, further solidifying the country’s position as the most visited Caribbean destination in the region. This popularity is reaffirmed among five and four-star properties in Dominican Republic, where Expedia recorded that these properties in Dominican Republic grew faster than the overall growth when compared to the same time period the year before, due to new lodging supply and rising demand for luxury lodging. Moreover, package demand at four-star properties for travelers coming from Spain to Dominican Republic grew more than 380 percent year-over-year, almost 435 percent for travelers coming from Brazil and almost 2,250 percent for travelers coming from Chile. The top five markets in Dominican Republic for four-star properties demand are: Bavaro, Macao, Uvero Alto, Cabeza de Toro, and Puerto Plata. Expedia data also revealed that booking windows tend to be longer for five- and four- star properties, averaging 69 days, while three- and two-star properties averaged 61 days. Similarly, travelers tend to stay longer in Dominican Republic when booking an upscale or luxury vacation; the average length of stay for five-star and four-star hotels is five days. The travel platform also reports that the all- inclusive category in Dominican Republic continues to grow faster than any other property segment.