USVIHTA Update | December 2020
Holiday Miracles Prevail Over Pandemic as Marine Toys for Tots and Hotel & Tourism Associations Distribute 3,000 Toys to USVI Children
A global pandemic could not stop the St.Thomas-St. John Hotel & Tourism Association and St. Croix Hotel & Tourism Association along with the Puerto Rico branch of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation and Silver Airways/Seaborne from bringing holiday cheer to children throughout the territory. Donning masks and taking safety precautions, association representatives, Toys for Tots partners, public sector representatives and other sponsors distributed 3,000 toys to children in housing communities on St. Croix Dec. 5 and St. Thomas Dec. 6.

“The economic challenges brought on by the pandemic have greatly affected families all over the world. Partnering with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to ensure children in our territory have a joyful holiday is an important part of our commitment to the Virgin Islands community, and we were honored to once again be part of such a special event,” said USVIHTA President Lisa Hamilton.
U.S. Department of the Interior and EHI Acquisitions, LLC Agree to Re-Enter Lease Negotiations and Continue Environmental Assessment at Caneel Bay Resort
The U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior) and EHI Acquisitions, LLC (EHI, an affiliate of CBI Acquisitions, LLC, the current operator of Caneel Bay Resort), announced they have reached an understanding to move forward with negotiations toward a long-term lease for Caneel Bay Resort, and for the National Park Service (NPS) to begin the next phase of environmental site assessments at the property.

“Through our shared understanding, we can in good faith continue our work to rebuild Caneel Bay and re-enter negotiations toward a long-term lease of this treasured resort,” said Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Rob Wallace. “I am hopeful our recent discussions will provide a path to successfully negotiate a lease and support the rejuvenation of the island in a way that benefits the community and future visitors to St. John National Park.” Read more.
Time is Running Out to Take the Association Health Plan Surveys - If Your Business Has Employees, Your Feedback is Critical!
Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. shared his concern regarding the number of persons who do not have access to private health insurance. He is exploring Association Health Plans to allow small businesses, including self-employed workers, to band together to obtain health insurance coverage as if they were a single large employer.
The Office of the Governor is conducting a survey of Virgin Islands residents to better understand how to improve access to affordable health insurance. Please take a few moments to answer the following questions about health insurance coverage. 

The APH Survey should be completed by all association members and their employees. The AHP Employer Survey is only for those business owners who have employees. The deadline to complete the surveys is Dec. 18. Click the links below to begin.

Vision 2040 to Report Survey Results and Emerging Goals and Strategies
The Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority (VIEDA) will conduct a series of virtual town halls next week to report survey results and get initial public feedback on the emerging goals and strategies for “Vision 2040,” the 20-year economic development plan being developed by the VIEDA, its CEO, Wayne L. Biggs, Jr., announced. The island-specific meetings will take place from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 15 (St. John), Dec. 16 (St. Thomas) and Dec. 17 (St. Croix). Read more.

Related news:
Sports Will Help Tourism Sector’s Post-Pandemic Revival
Noting the increasing importance of sports tourism to the post-Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) revival of the United States Virgin Islands' visitor industry, Tourism Commissioner Joseph Boschulte pledged to leverage the territory’s “natural appeal and growing complement of facilities to attract athletes to practice and compete on and off our shores.” Read more.

More local and regional news:
Experts to Examine Caribbean Tourism and Economic Recovery Dec. 11
Strategies for the quick recovery of Caribbean economies from the devastation wrought by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will be discussed by regional and global stakeholders at a virtual forum hosted by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), and the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC) on Dec. 11. Read more.
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Lisa Hamilton 
USVIHTA President