Carnival Valor sails from St. ThomasDelegates and other guests arrived in St. Thomas on Monday for the annual Caribbean Tourism Organization Conference.

The week-long festivities cover a wide range of Caribbean tourism-related matters. Although the actual conference only covers three days, it is customarily a chance for the host island to display upgrades.

In the case of St. Thomas, improvements to the Cyril E. King Airport were the obvious greeting. The arrivals area has been streamlined, with a new bar/restaurant area still under construction.

With the theme “Realizing the Vision: Positioning Caribbean Tourism for Major Change,”
the conference program includes lecture and discussion topics on finding the right mix of tourism diversity to produce secure year-round business, using big data and technology to understanding and predicting tourist behavior, branding and imagining management in the tourism sector, tourism innovation and enterprise, implications of private-public partnerships.

An orientation reception hosted by the US Virgin Islands Monday night will be followed by executive meetings Tuesday and reports from several key Caribbean tourism destinations Wednesday. A series of provoking topics and lectures are planned through the week.

Additionally, it is a gubernatorial election year in the US Virgin Islands. Signs for election night hopefuls are all over the island. Lead Democrat-Party candidate Donna Christiansen has been the three-island US territory's delegate to Congress for the past 15 years.