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Tuesday, May 24, 2022
HomeNewsLocal newsU.S. Virgin Islands Reports Strong Tourism Performance During Pandemic

U.S. Virgin Islands Reports Strong Tourism Performance During Pandemic

Joseph Boschulte, commissioner of Tourism of the U.S. Virgin Islands (Source file photo)

The U.S. Virgin Islands is crediting smart, sensible public health policies and tourism management efforts for the admirable performance of the territory’s bread-and-butter industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte reported that in an environment of deep declines in regional and international tourism arrivals, the U.S. Virgin Islands has weathered the pandemic storm well, despite restricting leisure travel twice last year, from March through June, and then again in August and September.

As the Caribbean Tourism Organization reports a 2020 Caribbean-wide stayover visitor decline of 65.5 percent, down from a record 31.5 million stayover visits to the region in 2019, the USVI welcomed 415,749 air arrivals in 2020, representing a 35.1 percent reduction year-over-year. Global tourism declined 73.9 percent over the same period.

“We are incredibly thankful for the leadership of Governor Albert Bryan Jr, Lieutenant Governor Tregenza Roach, Commissioner of Health Justa Encarnacion and the countless Virgin Islanders – from our policymakers and the business community to grassroots organizers – for their thoughtful actions, which continue to protect precious lives as well as livelihoods,” said the commissioner.

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STR data shows a 29.1 percent year-over-year (2020 vs. 2019) decline in the territory’s hotel occupancy rate, compared to a 52.5 percent drop in the region. Average Daily Rates in the V.I. climbed by 43.3 percent compared with a 2.4 percent increase across the Caribbean.

“We must continue to press on and deliver results for our industry and for every Virgin Islander,” the tourism commissioner said, “but not at the expense of relaxing adherence to public health and safety protocols, such as wearing face masks and maintaining a physical distance.”

Buoyed by a major uptick in airlift to the territory, which started over the Thanksgiving holiday and is being sustained over the ensuing months, Boschulte reported the tourism recovery has been strong, with the territory experiencing an encouraging start to 2021, anchored by robust visitor arrivals throughout the current spring break period.

In spite of the positive outlook, Boschulte said the V.I. Department of Tourism will continue to strengthen relationships with industry partners to help position the territory as a preferred visitor destination in the Caribbean.

“While we are pleased with our performance to date, we recognize that we have our work cut out for us,” said the commissioner, who reported that he and his team would meet with Virgin Islanders in the diaspora along with the department’s sales and marketing representatives during the upcoming weeks and fine-tune its marketing strategy in light of the changing nature of the pandemic and its impact on the economy.

The USVI recently announced it will allow all residents ages 16 or older to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, making it the first United States jurisdiction to offer the vaccine to such a large majority of residents. Alaska followed suit shortly after, as the first U.S. state to permit residents ages 16 or older to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

With at least 20,000 people in the territory having received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Virgin Islands is on pace to meet Gov. Bryan’s goal of having half the population, or 50,000 people vaccinated by July 1, 2021.

Every traveler aged five or older who enters the U.S. Virgin Islands, by air or sea, including anyone in-transit to another destination, is required to use the USVI Travel Screening Portal at www.usvitravelportal.com and submit an acceptable COVID-19 test result prior to travel.

For more details, visit www.usviupdate.com.

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Joseph Boschulte, commissioner of Tourism of the U.S. Virgin Islands (Source file photo)
The U.S. Virgin Islands is crediting smart, sensible public health policies and tourism management efforts for the admirable performance of the territory’s bread-and-butter industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte reported that in an environment of deep declines in regional and international tourism arrivals, the U.S. Virgin Islands has weathered the pandemic storm well, despite restricting leisure travel twice last year, from March through June, and then again in August and September. As the Caribbean Tourism Organization reports a 2020 Caribbean-wide stayover visitor decline of 65.5 percent, down from a record 31.5 million stayover visits to the region in 2019, the USVI welcomed 415,749 air arrivals in 2020, representing a 35.1 percent reduction year-over-year. Global tourism declined 73.9 percent over the same period. “We are incredibly thankful for the leadership of Governor Albert Bryan Jr, Lieutenant Governor Tregenza Roach, Commissioner of Health Justa Encarnacion and the countless Virgin Islanders – from our policymakers and the business community to grassroots organizers – for their thoughtful actions, which continue to protect precious lives as well as livelihoods,” said the commissioner. STR data shows a 29.1 percent year-over-year (2020 vs. 2019) decline in the territory’s hotel occupancy rate, compared to a 52.5 percent drop in the region. Average Daily Rates in the V.I. climbed by 43.3 percent compared with a 2.4 percent increase across the Caribbean. “We must continue to press on and deliver results for our industry and for every Virgin Islander,” the tourism commissioner said, “but not at the expense of relaxing adherence to public health and safety protocols, such as wearing face masks and maintaining a physical distance.” Buoyed by a major uptick in airlift to the territory, which started over the Thanksgiving holiday and is being sustained over the ensuing months, Boschulte reported the tourism recovery has been strong, with the territory experiencing an encouraging start to 2021, anchored by robust visitor arrivals throughout the current spring break period. In spite of the positive outlook, Boschulte said the V.I. Department of Tourism will continue to strengthen relationships with industry partners to help position the territory as a preferred visitor destination in the Caribbean. “While we are pleased with our performance to date, we recognize that we have our work cut out for us,” said the commissioner, who reported that he and his team would meet with Virgin Islanders in the diaspora along with the department’s sales and marketing representatives during the upcoming weeks and fine-tune its marketing strategy in light of the changing nature of the pandemic and its impact on the economy. The USVI recently announced it will allow all residents ages 16 or older to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, making it the first United States jurisdiction to offer the vaccine to such a large majority of residents. Alaska followed suit shortly after, as the first U.S. state to permit residents ages 16 or older to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. With at least 20,000 people in the territory having received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Virgin Islands is on pace to meet Gov. Bryan's goal of having half the population, or 50,000 people vaccinated by July 1, 2021. Every traveler aged five or older who enters the U.S. Virgin Islands, by air or sea, including anyone in-transit to another destination, is required to use the USVI Travel Screening Portal at www.usvitravelportal.com and submit an acceptable COVID-19 test result prior to travel. For more details, visit www.usviupdate.com.