The V.I. Department of Tourism literally laid out the red carpet Wednesday night at Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix to welcome the arrival of the inaugural charter flight from Denmark operated by Bravo Tours.
As the huge Boeing 757 plane touched down a little after 6:30 p.m., Tourism employees loaded their arms full of gift bags along with the St. Croix Heritage Dancers, who readied themselves along the plush red carpet to offer the Danish passengers a royal welcome.
Gov. John deJongh Jr., Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty, and V.I. Port Authority officials were all on hand to welcome the first 257 passengers to the territory on the new weekly charter service.
A Danish Bravo Tours employee at the end of the carpet directed passengers in two directions: those going to St. Thomas, and those staying on St. Croix. Eighty-seven Danes were directed to Seaborne airlines where they were to be pampered even further, with a meal cooked by students from St. Croix Educational Complex.
Those staying on St. Croix had two full tables of delicious local food to eat, and full bar of Cruzan rum and water to drink, handed out by the Heritage Dancers. Each passenger also received a recyclable gift bag, which included a hat, T-shirt, water bottle, and a pair of dog tags sporting the USVI Tourism logo.
“It is a great day on St. Croix,” Nicholson-Doty said. “For the last 15 months we have worked to bring Bravo Tours to the territory.”
Operated by one of the fastest growing tour companies in the Danish market, the weekly charter will be flying from Copenhagen, in Eastern Denmark, and the city of Billund, in Western Denmark, on alternating weeks.
Nicholson-Doty said the next flight to St. Croix will be Oct. 26, but after that they will be flying weekly. According to St. Croix resident Nina York, who is Danish and conducts tours, the flights are booked solid for the next few months.
During the first year, the service will be offered through April 20 with 12 hotels (seven from St. Croix and five from St. Thomas) featured by Bravo Tours. In addition to travelers booking through the Bravo Tours program, Danish tour operators that have established relationships with the territory will also be able to secure seats on the charter.
According to a previous press release, the new service is expected to boost arrivals from Denmark by as much as 25 percent, providing a big boost to the economy.
Gov. DeJongh agreed and said during a short press conference after the arrival that the new charter is extremely important to diversifying the economy. He also said that it will be a great opportunity for the partnership of the two cultures.
Bravo Tours’ CEO Peder Hornshøj said he was extremely excited to be embarking on the new journey and explained that 90 percent of the passengers will be touring St. Thomas and St. Croix for the trip, and the remaining 10 percent will stay on St. Croix.
While the future flights won’t offer as big a welcome, Nicholson-Doty did say that there will be greeters on hand for every flight.
The Department of Tourism has committed $250,000 in marketing support to promote the charter in the Danish market, and the project with Bravo Tours began in July of last year.
Bravo Tours transports more than 130,000 passengers annually to premier destinations such as Kenya, Bulgaria, Turkey, Vietnam, Rhodos, the Canary Islands and Malta. For more information on Bravo Tours, visit www.bravotours.dk