The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism says its latest strategic partnerships with national media and travel sellers are already yielding encouraging returns for the territory. Since the reopening to leisure visitors one month ago, several thousand guests have arrived in the U.S.V.I. who will help stimulate economic activity through spending at hotels, activities and attractions, restaurants, retail stores and with tour operators and transportation providers.
Department of tourism commissioner Joseph Boschulte attributes much of the success in attracting visitors to the existence of the Travel Screening Portal, a prescreening tool now required to be used by travelers to the U.S.V.I. (aged five and older), regardless of the coronavirus (COVID-19) positivity rate in the traveler’s state or country of residence, as well as the protocols and guidance established by the Office of the Governor, the Department of Health and other local agencies.
“The Travel Screening Portal has been a game-changer for us as it has given us the technological capability to prescreen and certify travelers before they arrive in the territory, enhancing our ability to ensure that visitors and residents are as protected as possible from COVID-19 infection,” said commissioner Boschulte in a press statement, adding that the Department of Tourism is actively preparing for the launch of an upgraded Travel Screening Portal.
The current version of the Travel Screening Portal, which, since its late July launch, has processed close to 25,000 travelers, offers a user-friendly front-end system to walk travelers through the submission process, and a secure back-end system that allows administrators to easily process submissions, and airport and seaport personnel to efficiently process travelers upon arrival.
Commissioner Boschulte also noted that demand for travel to the U.S.V.I “continues on an upward trend, with inquiries and conversions to bookings encouraging, especially during this typically slow period of travel to the Caribbean.” He cited recent flight capacity reports, occupancy figures and demand indicators for both traditional and sharing economy properties.
Version 2.0 of the portal will include significant upgrades, such as a hybrid mobile application that supports Android and iOS platforms for a faster mobile experience and QR code generation functionality that allows the system to generate automated emails to travelers. With its built-in airport screening functionality that allows for scanning on the ground, the QR code functionality facilitates a seamless experience for travelers once they reach the destination. The portal email generation system will also provide vital information to the passenger before traveling. The portal will eventually integrate an artificial intelligence (AI) engine that will automate and increase the efficiency of the entire back-end process.
The USVI Travel Screening Portal 2.0 is expected to launch in November, making it even easier for travelers to go through the necessary steps prior to traveling to the territory.
The portal is available at www.usviupdate.com/travelportal.