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Wednesday, June 7, 2023
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It's About More Than the Rum

Dear Source:
In reference to your story, Checked Bag Charge May Dry Up Rum Sales, Hit V.I. Economy, I think that our Senators need to look into the baggage fees and "by the minute" fare increases a lot deeper. At one time, (just before these baggage fees), the US Virgin Islands was considered "international" not domestic travel by all major carriers into the VI, now we are considered domestic. How convenient. I feel that our Senators both here and abroad don't care about all these increases, because they are not as affected as the average consumer. More than likely, they are not the ones paying for their or their families air travel. The government pays for the elected officials travel and the miles earned by the officials travel pay for their families travel. So what should they care.
I am a born Virgin Islander, have lived in the "Continental" US, and also has traveled a lot internationally. Right now I reside on St. Thomas. I am a lover of all islands, but I don't feel that it is fair that a person traveling from Florida to St. Maarten via Puerto Rico, does not have to pay the baggage fee, but a person traveling from Florida to St. Thomas via Puerto Rico has to pay the baggage fee. The reason we originally were allowed more baggage, was because we were considered "international" and we were traveling farther away from home than normal. We were previously grouped as "The US Virgin Islands and the Caribbean", now its "US, US Virgin Islands, PR, and Canada" all in one group. What happened to Alaska and Hawaii, Guam and other US territories. Is Alaska and Hawaii included in the "US"? If Guam and the other US territories are considered still international, why are we who was once considered international, basically now considered domestic. Hmmm!
Being that I like to travel, I have been following the airlines closely. I have also been watching our Senators. Let's see if anything can be done. Let's not give up like our Tourism Commissioner. Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson Doty said, "We are doing our best to establish a waiver for the territory, however, this is something nationwide, not isolated to us. It is a significant concern because of the impact on rum sales," she also said. "I spoke to American yesterday, and it doesn't look like we'll be able to get a waiver. What we have to do now is to help mitigate the situation. We already have a really aggressive summer promotion in place and the hotels on St. Croix are working on a promotion." All she is worrying about is the revenue potentially that will be lost as I am also. What about the residents of the all the Virgin Islands not just St. Croix and visitors? A passenger with 2 checked bags will pay an additional $80.00 r/t on top of high tickets prices. Right now our government officals are worrying about the rum revenues, but what happened to the whole picture. Air travel to the US Virgin Islands will decrease. It will now cost a family of 4 an extra $320.00 for baggage to travel to the US Virgin Islands. It is cheaper for them to purchase a ticket to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, Bahamas, or Honduras from Miami with no baggage fee right now. Go figure.
Marcelle Cabo
St. Thomas

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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