The U.S. Virgin Islands is reporting close to a 50 percent increase in stayover arrivals this year versus 2018, a clear signal that tourism in the territory is on a strong rebound.
Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte announced that, according to the U.S. Virgin Islands Bureau of Economic Research, the territory welcomed 347,725 stay over arrivals on St. Thomas, about a 70 percent increase over 2018, while St. Croix has seen an increase of 5.2 percent, with 117,203 arrivals from January to August this year.
The tourism commissioner shared the statistics while noting the USVI is preparing for the reopening of some of its larger resorts following the 2017 hurricanes. Among the top openings is The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, which moved up its opening date from December 1 to November 22 this year.
With the planned opening of Frenchman's Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort and Noni Beach, a St. Thomas Resort (which will be a member of Marriott's Autograph Collection), along with Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort & Spa and Divi Carina Bay on St. Croix in 2020, the tourism commissioner said he is confident that the U.S. Virgin Islands will build on the upswing of travelers this year.
Boschulte also reported good news for airlift to the territory this winter season, with air capacity to St. Croix ahead of 2017 pre-storm levels, while seat capacity to St. Thomas is projected to approach 90 percent of pre-storm levels. As additional accommodations inventory comes back online in 2019-20, St. Thomas should move closer to its full pre-storm capacity, he added.
JetBlue has returned from Boston and is currently serving St. Thomas with weekly nonstop Saturday flights through February 9, 2020; after, the airline will operate a daily nonstop service between February 13 and April 28, 2020.
The commissioner also announced that American Airlines will serve the Miami-St. Croix market with three daily flights for the Thanksgiving holiday (November 23-25 and November 30-December 2). American also extended Charlotte-St. Croix flights from Saturday-only to daily during the peak Christmas period (December 18-24; December 26-30; and January 1-6, 2020). American Airlines earlier announced weekly year-round Saturday service to St. Thomas from Dallas-Fort Worth and seasonal Saturday service from Chicago, beginning December 21, 2019. The carrier will also add a third daily flight between Miami and St. Thomas from December 18, 2019.
Additionally, United Airlines will serve the Chicago-St. Thomas market with weekly Saturday flights, beginning November 2, 2019, and increase its frequency to three flights per week over the peak winter season (January 7 to March 3, 2020).
"As we move past the recovery phase, we are beginning to witness a renaissance in the Virgin Islands' tourism product, and eagerly look forward to a bright future for our industry," Boschulte said in an official release.