St. Croix is going to be the next big thing—that’s according to Joseph Boschulte, United States Virgin Islands Commissioner of Tourism. At the Caribbean Travel Marketplace, held at Baha Mar in the Bahamas from January 21—23, Commissioner Boschulte announced the new brand, “St. Croix: A Vibe Like No Other." The people, cuisine, history and culture of the destination, coupled with the island's laid-back vibe, will help position St. Croix as a "go-to" Caribbean destination, he said.
Commissioner Boschulte explained that the marketing campaign is designed to strengthen demand for the island and features several personalities from the St. Croix community as the voiceovers. One of them, Crucian chef Lamar Bough, was on hand at the launch where he served the media breakfast offerings, including saltfish gundy, Virgin Islands beignets, chicharrons with pickled onions, and tomato, cucumber and avocado salad.
"Through the eyes, art and expertise of Crucians, we can present the breadth and depth of experiences the island has to offer. Through chefs, mixologists, musicians, tour guides, artisans and other professionals, we will explore the Crucian vibe," the Commissioner explained. "I am excited to roll out our marketing strategy to position St. Croix as a destination with its own identity and one whose tourism potential is limitless."
The campaign has a focus on digital and social media, including Spotify and Pandora, as well as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Print and broadcast will launch in late February and early March, respectively.
Commissioner Boschulte reported that on the heels of a successful 2019-20 Crucian Christmas Festival, the island of St. Croix is poised for a strong tourism performance this year. He reported that 2019 saw an increase of 7.9 percent increase in visitor arrivals by air to St. Croix over 2018, and he is optimistic that with updated accommodations coming back online in the months ahead, the island would see more positive trends in 2020. Overall, the USVI received 544,194 visitors in 2019, an increase of 42.8 percent over 2018 (St. Thomas stayover arrivals increased 61.2 percent).
USVI Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte and chef Lamar Bough with soca singer Mic Love and dancers.
"With Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino reopening, the Renaissance St. Croix Carambola Beach Resort & Spa undergoing a major refurbishment, [and] the continued growth of the sharing economy … St. Croix will no doubt be a preferred destination on the radars of leisure and business travelers," said Commissioner Boschulte.
Good to know: He added that St. Croix’s air capacity this winter is forecast to deliver more than 6,100 seats weekly, which would be higher than its pre-storm capacity of 5,500. This summer, St. Croix will receive a third American Airlines daily flight from Miami between June 4 and August 17. The carrier also recently extended Charlotte-St. Croix flights from Saturday-only to daily during the peak Christmas period.
In addition, there is new service from Dallas on American Airlines and Chicago on American and United Airlines. American is also increasing to three flights daily between Miami and St. Thomas. United’s Chicago-to-St. Thomas flights will ramp up from Saturday-only to thrice weekly for winter, plus a Dulles-St. Thomas daily flight through summer, and Houston-St. Thomas on select Saturdays in spring. JetBlue will resume service from Boston to St. Thomas with daily flights (February through April).
Travelers to St. Croix can look forward to upcoming events such as the Agriculture and Food Fair (February); the St. Patrick's Day Parade (March); and Taste of St. Croix and the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience, both of which happen in April. Ian Turnbull, USVI Director of Festivals, who was also in attendance spoke about how the festivals are a great opportunity to present the island to visitors.
Although not available yet, visitors will be able to visit www.fetebookit.com to buy tickets to events and join dance and music troupes. Be sure to be in attendance for "Village," which takes place during Carnival; it's set in the center of town where local artists and food vendors set up booths.
As for accommodations in the USVI, The Ritz-Carlton, St, Thomas reopened November 22, 2019. Frenchman’s Reef Marriott and Morning Star and Noni Beach, Autograph Collection are all scheduled to open in 2020. There is no progress yet on Caneel Bay.
Even cruising showed strong numbers. There was year-over-year growth in calls and passengers. 2019, where the USVI received 1.3 million passengers, an increase of 1.9 percent over 2018, and 530 calls, an increase of 10.2 percent. Commissioner Boschulte noted that declines are forecast for next season, though, as a result of itinerary changes.
St. Thomas and St. John will continue to be promoted under the overarching United States Virgin Islands banner. Commissioner Boschulte also continued to note that no passport is required for U.S. citizens.