USVI seeks to grow arrivals from Canada
Will the United States Virgin Islands soon see nonstop flights from the Canadian market?
Joseph Boschulte, Commissioner of Tourism for the USVI, told Travel Courier that he is working hard to make it happen.
“Canada is our number one international destination,” he shared. “We continue to push for connectivity. Conversations are moving but they are not moving as quickly as we would like… We are still very bullish. We think the market has a lot of potential.”
In terms of recovery, the US territory is set to surpass 2019 cruise levels this season.
“USVI continues to be a very, very strong cruise ship destination. We expect our cruise levels to surpass 2019 in 2023,” he said, adding that the recovery comes faster than expected after the region saw no cruise ships for 18 months during the pandemic. “You’ll start to hear more people move off of comparisons with 2019 and have 2023 be the new benchmark going forward.”
With 95% of its visitors stemming from the US, the destination performed well for domestic travel even while travel restrictions were in place.
“We are doing very strong in terms of our tourism product,” he said. “Of course, we continue to grow our luxury yacht and sailboat business.”
New openings include The Morningstar Buoy Haus Beach Resort at Frenchman’s Reef, Autograph Property, a new-build property; and The Westin Beach Resort & Spa at Frenchman’s Reef, which reopened following a $350 million renovation, a large property featuring 392 rooms, including 28 suites.
“Those represent almost 500 rooms so we’re very excited about that for our winter season,” he added. “We are expecting a bounce from these properties for a couple of reasons. One is, for much of the pandemic our inventory for accommodations have been the sharing economy over traditional hotel rooms. Secondly, branded properties help [attract visitors] you get the Marriott Bonvoy and that is definitely a plus for us. It’s very, very good for our product.”
As a tourism destination, he says he knows the appeal has to go beyond sun, sand and sea.
“As we raise the profile of the destination, we recognize that there’s more to do than just beaches and water,” he said. “You have to have dining experiences that touch both the fine dining and as well as the more native local culinary scene because I think what I’ve found in my travels is that people want to have options.”