Joe Boschulte, the U.S. Virgin Islands’ tourism commissioner designee, declared the territory “open for business” at the 2019 Caribbean Travel Marketplace conference last week. According to Boschulte, between 60 and 65 percent of accommodations across the islands are now open and accepting guests following the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.
Traditional accommodations such as hotels, bed and breakfasts, resorts and timeshares are offering around 1,050 rooms on St. Thomas, 150 on St. John and 600 on St. Croix. Additionally, 600 villa units and 200 charter yachts are now available in the St. Thomas-St. John district while St. Croix currently has about 300 villa units.
Boschulte also highlighted the contributions of the sharing economy during the early stages of recovery when Airbnb and other platforms played an important role. Now there are approximately 830 Airbnb listings in St. Thomas, 250 in St. John and 250 in St. Croix.
Airlift capacity to St. Croix has already surpassed pre-storms levels, while seats to St. Thomas are at around 80 percent of the pre-storms level. Cruise ship arrivals have also continued to strengthen, with the territory taking measures to adjust the size and efficiency of its ports and enhancing the appeal of its land-based activities.
The commissioner designee also noted that the territory is working to widen its appeal and offer attractions highlighting the cultural heritage, natural environment and culinary richness of the islands. He also added that the territory is looking to improve its water transportation system so as to bring cruise passengers to retail areas on the islands.