April 19, 2007 — The V.I. Bureau of Economic Research has requested bids for conducting a study to determine the feasibility of a floating hotel for St. Croix.
"It's a stopgap measure," Sen. Neville James said.
James, who requested the study, said he envisions that a cruise ship could be brought in to augment St. Croix's limited supply of hotel rooms.
He said that during certain events, like the Agricultural Fair and the Virgin Islands/Puerto Rico Friendship Weekend, all of St. Croix's hotel rooms fill up.
James said that if the study determines his idea is feasible, he hopes to put it in place for November's Tempo Turns Two event that celebrates the second anniversary of the Tempo television channel. The channel was developed by Crucian Frederick Morton.
"I think it's realistic," he said.
He said that a 500-to-700-room cruise ship should be sufficient for the Tempo event.
James said the seven-month lead time would give the territory sufficient time to advertise that additional rooms will be available for Tempo Turns Two.
He said that Barbados and Antigua have used cruise ships to add rooms for the Cricket World Cup.
Lauritz Mills, director of the Bureau of Economic Research, said the study will determine if there is a demand for more hotel rooms and if the idea of a floating hotel makes sense.
"Before the government gets into a floating hotel deal," she said.
The deadline for submitting bids was April 3. Mills later said no bids were received on the proposal, so a request would be made again.
Rik Blyth, director of the V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association, noted that cruise ships have been used in other areas to provide temporary accommodations. He said they were used in locations that hosted the Olympics and in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
However, he said that while hotel rooms are needed on St. Croix, he's not sure that a floating hotel would be the way to augment rooms on a permanent basis.
He said the Hotel and Tourism Association would prefer land-based development because hotel construction provides jobs.
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