Expect a spike in Texas tourists to the territory this summer as United Airlines adds daily flights from Houston to St. Thomas.
The July to August daily flights are an off-season boon, said Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty, because the V.I. usually experiences a significant summer slowdown. While visitors from the northeast states are unlikely to visit the Caribbean when the weather is nice at home, the summer heat in Houston has people there looking for an escape.
Texas, California, and Colorado are growth markets for Virgin Islands tourism. People from these areas often have different traveling and spending habits than typical snowbirds, Nicholson-Doty said while at an event for mainland media in New York.
“People from Texas and the west coast stay longer. The traveler is very interested in exploration and experiential travel,” she said. She’s hoping to expand historical tours during this centennial year, and the reopening of Fort Christian comes at just the right time.
“The opening of the fort is really an anchor for us to move the needle on culture and history.”
More than 30,000 overnight VI visitors came from Texas last year, she said.
The daily United flights come after a successful four-days-a-week trial program last summer, Nicholson-Doty said.
“It was a strong flight for them, strong revenue, strong load factor.” United’s Boeing 737-700 aircraft for the Houston-VI flights has a capacity of 118 passengers.