The Department of Tourism remains committed to updating its partners on the significant progress the Territory is making, while taking the necessary steps to ensure that flights return as more accommodations become available.

At a meeting with United Airlines in Chicago, Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty, who was accompanied by David Mapp, Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA), provided updates on the Territory's accommodations and tourism offerings. The airline will operate daily service from Washington Dulles International Airport this summer.

The Commissioner and Executive Director held similar talks with JetBlue Airways in New York and attended an airline training program in the city.

In other airline developments, Delta Air Lines has added a second Saturday flight from Atlanta to St. Thomas, and is offering daily service from New York (JFK) to St. Thomas, effective May 24.

And, on May 24, Spirit Airlines launched new service from Fort Lauderdale to St. Croix three times a week. A celebratory launch helped to commemorate the service, and key media were on hand to cover the inaugural flight.

Captain Theodore A. Prince, a Virgin Islander who hails from St. Croix, piloted the inaugural flight.
Accommodations & Attractions
The U.S. Virgin Islands is open for business. Most of the destination’s popular attractions, restaurants and shops are open.

More than 50 percent of accommodations across the Territory are open and accepting guests; other properties continue to repair or rebuild. Including hotels, villas and other rental options, there are approximately 2,500 units available in the St. Thomas-St. John district. Stay-over guests in St. Croix can choose from more than 1,300 units available at various providers, including The Buccaneer, bed and breakfasts, villas and other rentals.

The Department of Tourism continues to update its list of available accommodations in the Territory to share with the media, tour operators and the traveling public.
Cruise Lines/Yachting
Cruise ship traffic to the Territory has begun to stabilize, and the Department of Tourism continues to work on maintaining strong relationships with cruise industry stakeholders. In April, Commissioner Nicholson-Doty attended the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association's (FCCA) Operations Committee meeting held in Miami, Florida. The Ports of the U.S. Virgin Islands had a strong presence at Seatrade Cruise Global 2018 in Miami in March. Members of the Virgin Islands Government, including leaders of the Territory's ports, met with cruise line executives and the Territory supported a welcome reception, hosted by FCCA, for cruise line leaders. Seatrade was also an opportunity for the USVI delegation to engage with travel industry representatives and members of the media. Each week the Department of of Tourism provides to FCCA a brief summary of timely events or highlights to be included in the association’s “Travel & Cruise” e-newsletter. The charter yachting sector has also robustly returned.
Customer Service Training
As part of our celebration of National Travel & Tourism Week in May, the Department of Tourism supported customer service training programs for tour and taxi operators, retail and hospitality sales associates, and shore excursion providers in the Territory. Led by Aquila's Center for Cruise Excellence, the sessions offered sound guidance to help key stakeholders provide the best products and service to visitors. "Customer Service & Frontline Training" as well as “Shore Excellence” trainings were well attended by many members of the Territory’s tourism industry community between May 8 and May 10 on both St. Croix and St. Thomas. Aquila is the official training partner of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA). “The comments we received from the participants indicated that they were leaving the training inspired to deliver only excellent service to their guests, which is what we love to see," said Melanie Colpitts, Director of Aquila’s Center for Cruise Excellence.
Media Relations
The Department of Tourism hosted a group of media on St. Croix for the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience. Articles resulting from that visit continue to appear in various publications. At the end of March, the Department also hosted a marine-focused trip to shine a spotlight on the Territory’s diverse marine-related activities, ranging from competitive sailing (for example the St. Thomas International Regatta) and yachting to scuba diving and the islands’ beautiful beaches. Journalists were also in the Territory for the annual VI Carnival experience on St. Thomas and Agrifest on St. Croix. A villa-focused trip to St. John is planned for June, and journalists will be in "Love City" in July to cover St. John Festival.
The Department of Tourism will soon be launching Purpose in Paradise, a comprehensive program that enhances the Territory’s broad network of community-based philanthropic activities and strengthens our ability to attract visitors in search of purpose-driven travel opportunities. The initiative pairs visitors who are interested in helping the Territory’s recovery efforts with local nonprofit organizations in need of assistance with specific projects such as rebuilding a vegetable garden, coral restoration, helping to measure seedlings in mangroves, or collaborating on student literacy.

In addition to the chance to participate in a purpose-driven project, Purpose in Paradise allows visitors who may not be able to donate time in person to contribute financially to the Territory’s recovery. Groups such as Friends of Virgin Islands National Park (St. John), the St. Croix Landmarks Society and the Family Resource Center in St. Thomas are just a few examples of the many 501(c)(3) organizations that are performing essential community-based work.

Purpose in Paradise will be promoted by the Department of Tourism, leveraging public relations, social media and other marketing and advertising initiatives.

Interested volunteers will be able to send inquiries to
Community Relations
The Department of Tourism and Airbnb invited the community to participate at town hall meetings on St. Croix and St. Thomas to learn about leveraging economic opportunities with Airbnb. The meetings gave both current Airbnb hosts and those interested in becoming hosts an opportunity to learn about Airbnb's presence in the Territory, how to be a more successful host, and how to turn one’s home into an economic asset.
U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism | 340 774 8784