From St Thomas to St Croix, Travelers Are Flocking to the US Virgin Islands
Since the onset of the pandemic, the US Virgin Islands has been arguably the most resilient destination in the Caribbean, a trend that is showing no signs of slowing down.
The American Caribbean destination anchored by St Thomas, St Croix and St John keeps drawing visitors in large, unprecedented numbers.
“We were fortunate to grow our [stayover arrival] business to levels the US Virgin Islands has never seen,” said Joseph Boschulte, Commissioner of Tourism for the US Virgin Islands. “Our numbers are looking really good, very strong in 2023.”
Indeed, ForwardKeys data shows the US Virgin Islands leading Caribbean destinations in international arrival growth, with a 22 percent increase over the first quarter of 2022. That’s ahead of destinations like St Maaten, Guadeloupe, Turks and Caicos and even the Dominican Republic.
Since 2019, the numbers show an even more robust, sustainable jump: the US Virgin Islands has grown at a rate of 24 percent, the highest growth rate in the Caribbean.
Officials hope for a significant boost on the way this summer, with the long-awaited debut of the transformed Frenchman’s Reef resort in St Thomas, one that will be comprised of two hotels: a Westin resort and an Autograph Collection property called the Buoy Haus.
It will join a growing portfolio of hotels in St Thomas in particular, one that now includes the USVI’s hottest new boutique hotel, the recently-debuted Pink Palm in the heart of Charlotte Amalie.
The visitor surge is not just by air, however.
On the cruise side, long the anchor of the destination’s tourism industry, passenger arrivals are coming back “more robustly,” Boschulte said during the CHTA Marketplace event in Barbados.
St Croix has increased its cruise traffic by 150 percent, while the destination overall (including the cruise port in St Thomas) is already seeing a recovery that is ahead of schedule.
“We did not project 100 percent [ship occupancy] until late this year — but we did late last year,” Boschulte said. “We anticipated the growth will continue to be on the rise as we move forward in St Croix and St Thomas.”
Cruise passenger numbers are forecasted to return to 2019 levels overall by the end of this year.
It all adds up to a continued magnetism for the destination, as visitors continue to flock by sea and air and, perhaps most importantly, from new markets.
For more, visit the USVI.