The U.S. Virgin Islands invite travelers to its shores
The US Virgin Islands Department of Tourism has big plans to strengthen its position as the Caribbean’s premier destination for marine and yacht tourism.
Speaking after the St. Thomas Yacht Club Invitational Regatta last weekend, Joseph Boschulte, USVI Tourism Commissioner, said the ministry’s focus on welcoming seafarers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has paid strong dividends for the destination.
“Despite many challenges related to the pandemic, we have used the talent and creativity of our team to focus on our incredible marine and charter yacht industry,” said Commissioner Boschulte, who believes the US Virgin Islands “will take full advantage of our natural resources and assets to provide world-class experiences for visitors to our shores.”
He said the territory had already started to boost its maritime tourism offerings when the pandemic provided additional opportunities to tap the yacht charter industry. In 2019, the direct contribution to the economy of the U.S. Virgin Islands from charter and sport fishing vessels was estimated to be around $ 45 million.
“We expect the 2020-2021 figures to show significant growth due to a large number of visiting vessels,” he revealed.
A major development over the past winter season was the introduction of The Moorings, a world leading yacht charter company, to the St. Thomas charter base of operations.
The US Virgin Islands have a general commitment to the industry with several agencies coordinating to provide a concierge experience for the maritime industry, whether for leisure, business or competition.
The Department of Tourism will continue to support events such as the fishing tournaments, the Virgin Islands Charter Yacht Show and the annual St. Events International Regatta.
“Due to scrupulous adherence to public health protocols including our travel screening portal, we have been successful in organizing maritime events in the territory over the past year,” said Commissioner Boschulte, who greeted USVI Governor Albert Bryan Jr. and Lieutenant Governor Tregenza Roach for their vision of positioning the territory’s maritime sector in the foreground and at the center. He also commended local partners such as the Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association and the St. Thomas Yacht Club for their efforts to ensure residents and visitors have a safe and healthy maritime experience.
The Ministry of Tourism has developed and maintains a designated web page that presents the marine value proposition of the territory. Upcoming events include the International Optimist Regatta (June 14-20, 2021), the Virgin Islands Charter Yacht Show (November 7-10, 2021) and the inaugural Caribbean Charter Yacht Show at Yacht Haven Grande – St. Thomas (December 9 – 12, 2021).
The Commissioner also noted that the Ministry of Tourism is working with the Office of the Governor to create a maritime program specific to Sainte-Croix, with its own dedicated marketing platform.