U.S. Virgin Islands Says 2021 Was a Banner Year for the Territory

The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism is reporting significant tourism success in 2021, a banner year for Caribbean tourism, beating the territory’s previous performances in 2019 and 2020. The U.S. Virgin Islands Bureau of Economic Research reports 738,040 air arrivals between January and November 2021—marking a 102.5 percent increase over the similar period in 2020 and close to 30 percent from 2019.

USVI Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte said he looked forward to receiving the final statistics for 2021, since December was a particularly impressive month for the territory, based on data gleaned from its Travel Screening Portal. The portal registered over 1 million submissions the previous year, and more than 116,000 in December, the commissioner reported, crediting the pre-arrival screening tool as critical in protecting the lives of visitors and residents, besides the livelihoods of all Virgin Islanders.

The commissioner thanked Governor Albert Bryan Jr. for his stewardship of the territory throughout the pandemic, along with his cabinet colleagues, including Commissioner of Health Justa Encarnacion, for her dedication and commitment to keeping people safe while the economic engine of the territory revved speedily throughout the year. “We must also give thanks to the dedicated team at the Department of Tourism who played a key role in our chalking up numerous accolades throughout the year,” said Commissioner Boschulte in a press release. He also thanked the private sector for its commitment to promoting the destination as well as its commitment to public health safety.

He reported that the Department of Tourism generated close to $1.5 billion in earned media coverage in 2021. The territory continues to report strong airlift, and will aim to solidify its ties with airline partners at the upcoming Routes Americas route development conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Investment interest in the territory is strong, with the opening of Lovango Resort & Beach Club on Lovango Cay (off St. John and St. Thomas) and Concordia Eco-Resort on St. John attracting much attention. Anticipation is also building as the countdown to the 2022 scheduled reopening of the Frenchman’s Reef Marriott on St. Thomas has begun, while next month’s reopening of Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort as an adults-only all inclusive on St. Croix will boost interest in “The Big Island.”

The commissioner pointed out that the USVI continues to appeal to multiple niche markets from romance and honeymoons to marine and affinity groups. “Our attendance at trade shows across the nation is paying dividends,” he said, announcing that there will be more training opportunities for travel agents and tour operators in the months ahead.

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