Webcams overlooking Christiansted harbor and several beaches around the island have seen a sharp spike in viewership since the COVID-19 pandemic forced hundreds of millions around the world to spend more time at home.
According to Tom Yaegel, founder of St. Croix company VisitTheVI.com, the 11 webcams of subsidiary VisitStCroix.com are experiencing close to 6,200 views per day and a record 117,000 for the month of March to date.
“We believe that the recently increased viewership is attributable not only to increased seasonal demand but also due to folks with an interest in St. Croix such as frequent or past visitors, off-island property owners, business people and those with relatives and friends now living in St. Croix wanting to view the island,” Yaegel said in a release.
“While the current situation is a tragedy for all, the cameras continue to broadcast the natural beauty of St Croix to the world,” he added.
The cameras have been growing in popularity. Total views for all VisitStCroix.com cameras were over one million views in 2019. But this is a sharp increase from a typical average of less than 90,000 per month.
“I think our sense is that there are a couple factors,” Yaegel said in a phone call. “People are at home and have more time. They are online, playing games, browsing the internet and going to YouTube and for whatever reason, they come across the St. Croix cams and want a look,” he said.
Many might be people looking at a tropical paradise thinking about getting away from their home or apartment. Another group may be people who have an affiliation with St. Croix, whether from visiting in the past, are from St. Croix or have friends or relatives on the island, who “might want to see that the place is still there and still beautiful,” Yaegel said.
About 45 percent of those viewing show internet service providers in the United States, with the United Kingdom a distant second at nearly 6 percent. After that, curiously, comes Brazil with nearly 4 percent.
If you break down viewership by age, the cams have seen spikes in ages 25 through 54, particularly in the 25-44 age range, supporting the idea that people who would normally be at work are now online.
VisitStCroix.com has been online since 1999, the same year the Source came online. You can see the cams from the main page of VisitStCroix.com by clicking on the upper right tab Live Web Cams. Or you can go to YouTube and enter “St. Croix” and the cameras will appear near the top of the first page.
Cameras currently in operation are located at the Caravelle Hotel & Casino, showing a panoramic view of Christiansted harbor and boardwalk and another of the adjoining street and boardwalk; The Buccaneer Hotel with a view to Mermaid beach, tennis courts and golf course; Company House Hotel with a view through The Steeple Building toward the harbor; Chenay Bay Beach Resort with views to the beach and west; Leatherback Landing @ Cane Bay with a view of Cane Bay Beach; Schooner Bay Condominium with views to St. Croix Marina and Christiansted harbor; BlueWater Terrace Restaurant with a view of Buck Island; The Palms At Pelican Cove with sea and hotel pool view; The Fred Hotel & Restaurant with rotating sea and property views; and Cottages By The Sea with rotating beach and sea views.
“We offer these cameras basically at cost to the sponsor. All we ask is they become an advertiser for us,” Yaegel said.
“It obviously helps the whole territory and it helps the sponsors because the viewership on these cameras is just unbelievable,” he added. To find out more about getting a St. Croix webcam, interested parties can email firstname.lastname@example.org.