The US Virgin Islands is reporting “strong” tourism numbers amid the pandemic, significantly outperforming much of the rest of the Caribbean.
In an environment that has seen deep declines in tourism arrival numbers, the USVI has weathered the pandemic storm well, says US Virgin Islands Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte.
The US Virgin Islands welcomed 415,749 air arrivals in 2020; while that was a 35.1 percent reduction compared to 2019, it was a far smaller decline than the 65.5 percent visitor decline the wider Caribbean saw last year.
“We are incredibly thankful for the leadership of Governor Albert Bryan Jr, Lieutenant Governor Tregenza Roach, Commissioner of Health Justa Encarnacion and the countless Virgin Islanders – from our policy makers and the business community to grassroots organizers – for their thoughtful actions, which continue to protect precious lives as well as livelihoods,” Boschulte said.
Accordingly, the USVI’s hotel occupancy declined by 29.1 percent, compared to a 52.5 percent reduction for the wider region.
Average daily rates actually climbed by 43.3 percent compared with a 2.4 percent increase across the Caribbean.
“We must continue to press on and deliver results for our industry and for every Virgin Islander,” the tourism commissioner stated, “but not at the expense of relaxing adherence to public health and safety protocols such as wearing face masks and maintaining physical distance.”
The USVI has seen a major increase in airlift in recent months, with airlines adding more flights, buoyed by robust visitor arrivals.
“While we are pleased with our performance to date, we recognize that we have our work cut out for us,” Boschulte said.
The USVI has begun a vaccination push, with 20,000 people in the territory already having received the first dose of the vaccine.
The plan is to have at least half the population, or 50,000 people, vaccinated by July 1, 2021, according to USVI Governor Bryan.
For more on the USVI’s travel protocols, see here.