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HomeNewsArchivesV.I. August Tourism By The Numbers

V.I. August Tourism By The Numbers

Oct. 14, 2004 – The number of visitors to the territory went up 9 percent in August over the previous August, announced the Bureau of Economic Research on Wednesday.
A total of 159,900 people visited in August 2004 compared to 146,800 in August 2003.
"We are seeing an increasing year-to-date totals," Beverly Nicholson, president of the V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association, said Thursday.
Most, but not all, of the August numbers issued by the Bureau of Economic Research looked better than the same period last year.
The shortfall came in air arrivals to St. Thomas/St. John. The number was down 3.3 percent in August. However, visitors arriving by air to St. Croix rose 18.1 percent.
While 36 cruise ships called on St. Thomas/St. John in August, the figure was one less than August 2003. The number of passengers rose by 13 percent over the previous year. No cruise ships called on St. Croix during August 2004 or August 2003.
St. Thomas/St. John reported a hotel occupancy rate of 62.3 percent in August 2004 compared to 58.8 a year ago.
In St. Croix, the occupancy rate stood at 44.5 percent in August 2004. In August 2003, it stood at 33.7 percent.
"It was nothing to write home about," Roger Carrington, who owns Carringtons Inn on St. Croix, said.
Lisa Durgin, who manages vacation villas on St. John, said that her entire summer was strong.
It's been a long time since we had a bad summer," she said.
Joel Kling, manager at Emerald Beach and Carib Beach hotels, said Emerald Beach had a 93 percent occupancy rate in August, up about 25 percent over the year before. Carib Beach ran 47 percent, an increase of about 10 percent over August 2003.
He said that he thinks the Virgin Islands is doing well because the value of the U.S. dollar is so low, the cost of fuel discourages driving vacations and the American flag flies overhead.
"The Caribbean has been a safer destination for a lot of travelers," he said.
Sebastiano Paiewonsky-Cassinelli, vice-president at A.H. Riise on St. Thomas, agrees that people are picking St. Thomas over Europe because they want to stay close to home.
Additionally, he said that the increased number of cruise-ship passengers and overnight visitors both contributed to a good summer in the retail sector.
"We didn't have a significant seasonal fluctuation," he said of the summer.
He said the territory's Economic Development Commission tax benefits package has helped create a "buzz" about the territory, which has made St. Thomas a hot destination.
Nicholson said that the upcoming winter season looks strong.
"We're getting displaced visitors from Florida and other Caribbean islands," she said.
She said that groups that initially planned trips to the Cayman Islands and Grand Bahama Island are headed to the Virgin Islands. Those islands suffered damage in the various hurricanes that swept through the Caribbean this summer.
Kling said that he also expects visitors who planned to go to Jamaica, Grenada and Cuba to visit the territory instead.
He said that a harsh winter like the mainland experienced last year would help fill rooms during the upcoming winter season.
He's hopeful that airfares won't "become obnoxiously high," which would put a damper on air arrivals.
Kling said that the joint hotel and Tourism Department "fifth-night free" promotion that included numerous hotels across the territory brought a lot of visitors.
"We had an avalanche," Kling said.
Gov. Charles Turnbull said in a news release that "the administration's tourism promotion initiatives are achieving favorable results."
Nicholson said that the Hotel Association is continuing its efforts to market the territory.
"But wherever we can, we collaborate with the government," she said.
The Tourism Department's marketing director, Steve Bornn, could not be reached for comment.

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