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U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS REPORTS WORKING WITH AIRLINES, INCREASING VISITORS

Discussions of Routes, New Hotel Openings, Property Investments, Exciting Events


At the annual Routes World Conference in Las Vegas this fall, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism emphasized the strength of the brand of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) as a tourism destination citing the 44% increase in visitors, the highest in all of the Caribbean. Attending the conference is art of the Department of Tourism's ongoing proactive strategy to increase airlift into the three-island territory, including St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, known for their pristine beaches, mountains, local culture, and excellent dining.

The Routes Conference from October 16 to 18 brought together more than 2,000 decision makers in the airline, airport, and destination space for one-on-one meetings over the course of three days to discuss strategic route planning, partnerships, and collaborations. U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism Commissioner, Joseph Boschulte, met with multiple airlines and airport decision makers, including American Airlines representatives, to discuss the carrier's recent route cuts, advocate for the Territory, and discuss the airline's plans for the future.  

"From our conversations at Routes, the airline industry is reporting a continued global challenge with pilot and staff shortages, fuel surges, and aircraft supply, resulting in airlines having to take a closer look at routes and restructure globally. The latest route cuts in the Territory from American Airlines are not exclusive to the U.S. Virgin Islands and are minimal in comparison to American Airlines' overall restructuring and repositioning of their assets," emphasized Boschulte.

Currently there are 21 nonstop flights from the U.S. to St. Croix and St. Thomas, and there was a 21% increase in airlift to the USVI this year compared to 2019. In addition to American, there are nine airlines flying to the U.S. Virgin Islands, including Delta, jetBlue, and United Airlines. Overall, the USVI tourism is flourishing with 14% more passengers in February 2022 compared to February 2019. Between 2019 and 2022, the number of departure seats increased by 35.8%. As of July 2022, the destination has received 98% more travelers than by the same period in 2021.

Boschulte stressed that the meetings were overwhelmingly positive towards the Territory, and highlighted the importance of the Department's attendance at industry events as opportunities for USVI brand visibility and creating relationships that will have a direct impact on tourism objectives.

"We are excited about the opportunities for our destination following our meetings at Routes. The sentiment towards the Territory was positive as airline partners continued to share how impressed they were with our tourism numbers. Data is key and the current positioning of the Territory between our increase in tourism, increase in accommodations with new properties coming on board, puts us in a great position for future airlift. As we evaluate our Territory, we want to continue to push and promote St. Croix as an opportunity for our airline partners," Boschulte said.

At 71%, the USVI has one of the highest occupancy rates in the Caribbean and new openings will only improve these already impressive numbers. The reopening of two properties on St. Thomas at Frenchman's Reef, include the Westin Beach Resort & Spa and the Seaborn (Autograph Collection) with 384 rooms, three ocean front pools, 72,000 square feet of event space. Also new is the Loyango Resort and Beach Club on a private island near St. John.

This year, St. Thomas and St. Croix were selected as two of the locations in the highly coveted "2022 Sports Illustrated (SI) Swimsuit Edition" featuring five WNBA stars and several models, and this included a three-day event launch in New York and Florida.

The Department is planning another proactive marketing push for the island of St. Croix as the island is expecting increased redevelopment in Frederiksted as it is home to the only all-inclusive property in the Territory with Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino; it is also celebrating its 70 th Annual Crucian Christmas Festival, and the 75 th anniversary of its beloved Buccaneer Beach & Golf Resort this December.

Upcoming events include Paradise Jam Basketball Tournament, the Caribbean Charter Yacht Show, the St. Croix Crucian Festival, Young Entrepreneurz Solutions (YES), the Virgin Islands Agrifest Celebration, and a three year partnership with UberSoca Cruise with three sails in 2023. 

Travelers interested in visiting the Territory can continue to travel into St. Croix and St. Thomas through American, Delta, JetBlue, Spirit, and United through gateway airports of Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Miami, Newark, New York, and Orlando. Inter-island travel is available via Air Sunshine, Cape Air, Liat, and Seaborne.

About the U.S. Virgin Islands

About 40 miles east of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands is a United States territory located in the northeastern Caribbean Sea. It's three main three islands are St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, where the capital of Charlotte Amalie is located. Perfect for leisure or business travel, the U.S. Virgin Islands features breathtaking, world-renowned beaches, an international marine industry, European architecture, and a burgeoning restaurant industry. No passports are required from U.S. citizens traveling from the U.S. mainland or Puerto Rico. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are equivalent to entering the United States from any international country. Upon departure, a passport is required for non-U.S. citizens. For more information about the United States Virgin Islands, go to www.VisitUSVI.com, follow us on Instagram (@visitusvi) and Twitter (@usvitourism), and become a fan on Facebook ( www.facebook.com/VisitUSVI).

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