A delegation from the V.I Department of Tourism and other agencies traveled to Merida, Mexico, and Dallas, Texas, last week to tell the story of the territory’s efforts to recover from September’s twin hits from Hurricanes Irma and Maria to an audience of travel industry representatives at the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association Cruise Conference and Trade Show.
In Dallas, the V.I. team met with officials from American Airlines, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the Department of Tourism.
“As we move from relief to recovery following September’s storms, the U.S. Virgin Islands is grateful for the partnership, engagement and support of FCCA and its member lines in helping to restore cruise industry business to our destination,” said Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty. “Attending this conference was an important step in our plans to rebuild.”
Taking part in the FCCA conference for the territory along with Nicholson-Doty were the leadership of WICO and the V.I. Port Authority and the West Indian Company Limited, including WICO CEO Clifford Graham and VIPA Executive Director David Mapp. They engaged in one-on-one meetings with executives from cruise industry partners, including Carnival Corporation, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and Royal Caribbean International.
In addition to attending panel discussions and sessions related to the state of the cruise industry, USVI representatives also attended a special FCCA session on crisis management that addressed aspects of the recent hurricanes such as pre-disaster preparation, communications, housing and relief.
“We know that our cruise product will not be restored to pre-storm conditions when the first ships return to the territory this week,” Nicholson-Doty said, “but we are making tremendous progress. We are counting on our partner agencies and the business community to ensure we are ready for the first calls.”
At its meeting with American Airlines’ Caribbean leadership team in Dallas, the V.I. group reviewed the company’s planned service to the territory from key U.S. cities in the coming months and shared the Department of Tourism’s feedback related to recent operations.
“American Airlines has been a strong air transportation partner with the U.S. Virgin Islands for many years, and we want to continue working together to ensure that residents and visitors have many, reliable options for travel to and from the destination,” Nicholson-Doty said.
While in Dallas, the commissioner connected with members of the media, including a live television interview on “Morning Dose,” a syndicated morning show on KDAF-TV show, where she shared post-hurricane travel and tourism news about the destination.
Nicholson-Doty also met with Scott McCartney, travel industry editor of the Wall Street Journal’s Dallas Bureau, to provide information about the impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on the territory’s tourism industry, infrastructure and economic activity.
The Dallas-area listening public also was able to hear news of the territory’s recovery during the commissioner’s broadcast interview with David Rancken on CBS Radio in Dallas.