Joseph Boschulte, Commissioner of Tourism for the USVI, is reporting that the destination has weathered the pandemic storm well, despite restricting leisure travel twice last year, from March through June, and then again in August and September.
As the Caribbean Tourism Organization reports a 2020 Caribbean-wide stayover visitor decline of 65.5 percent, down from a record 31.5 million stayover visits to the region in 2019, the U.S. Virgin Islands welcomed 415,749 air arrivals in 2020, representing a 35.1 percent reduction year-over-year. Global tourism declined 73.9 percent over the same period.
STR data show a 29.1 percent year-over-year (2020 vs. 2019) decline in the U.S. Virgin Islands hotel occupancy rate, compared to a 52.5 percentage drop in the region. Average Daily Rates (ADR) in the USVI climbed by 43.3 percent compared with a 2.4 percentage increase across the Caribbean.
Buoyed by a major uptick in airlift to the U.S. Virgin Islands, which started over the Thanksgiving period and is being sustained over the ensuing months, Commissioner Boschulte reported the tourism recovery has been strong with the Territory experiencing an encouraging start to 2021, anchored by robust visitor arrivals throughout the current Spring Break period.
“While we are pleased with our performance to date, we recognize that we have our work cut out for us,” said Commissioner Boschulte in a press release statement. He and his team will be meeting with U.S. Virgin Islanders in the Diaspora along with the department’s sales and marketing representatives during the upcoming weeks to fine-tune its marketing strategy in light of the changing nature of the pandemic and its impact on the economy.
The U.S. Virgin Islands recently announced that it will allow all U.S. Virgin Islands residents ages 16 or older to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, making it the first U.S. jurisdiction to offer the vaccine to such a large majority of residents. Alaska followed suit shortly after, as the first U.S. state to permit residents ages 16 or older to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
With at least 20,000 people in the Territory having received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the USVI is on pace to meet Governor Bryan’s goal of having half the population, or 50,000 people vaccinated by July 1, 2021.
Every traveler aged 5 or older who enters the U.S. Virgin Islands, by air or sea, including anyone in-transit to another destination, is required to use the USVI Travel Screening Portal at usvitravelportal.com and submit an acceptable COVID-19 test result prior to travel.