Following successful in-market events in Dallas and Houston, Texas, over the past week, the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism is poised to elevate its post-pandemic marketing activities in these areas and across the country.
Addressing travel advisors, meeting planners, members of the media and other hospitality and tourism professionals, Commissioner of Tourism Joseph Boschulte shared the encouraging news of increased year-over-year airlift to the territory from Dallas and Houston as well as other key cities in the nation. In addition, data shows that although the territory has been affected by the pandemic-related decline in leisure travel, the impact was significantly less than what its Caribbean neighbors experienced, comparing 2020 to 2019.
“The increase of airlift into the USVI from our airline partners signals a strong summer tourism season for the territory, and we anticipate strengthening our presence in Texas as well as other key markets in the mainland United States,” said Commissioner Boschulte, noting that as the number of vaccinated travelers increases, the travel industry can expect to see continued recovery.
Recognizing that the tourism industry contributes an estimated 60 percent to the USVI’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Boschulte expressed the department’s gratitude to and praise for the territory’s locally-based partners and stakeholders for their support during this exceptionally difficult past year.
“Our hoteliers, restaurateurs, tour operators, transportation providers, tour guides, retailers and the many allied partners who make our industry thrive have demonstrated remarkable resilience and innovation, and that has allowed us to be in a position to welcome thousands of visitors back to the U.S. Virgin Islands in the last six months,” said the commissioner.
Building on the foundation of recent marketing initiatives with strategic media partners Condé Nast Traveler, Pandora, Refinery29 and other key outlets, the Department of Tourism will enhance its sales activity in the months ahead, educating travel advisors, meeting planners, tour operators and wholesalers on the territory’s COVID-19 travel protocols, new developments related to hotel renovations and re-openings, and supporting them as they advise their clients to “Reconnect with Paradise” and to experience “St. Croix: a vibe like no other.”
“Complementing our marketing and public relations work during the past year, much of our sales activity has been conducted virtually, out of necessity, making it even more gratifying that we have been able to keep the USVI ‘top-of-mind’ among travelers,” Boschulte said, pointing to the relative ease of traveling to the USVI combined with the USVI Travel Screening Portal tool as key factors contributing to an unprecedented quantity of airlift and strong visitor arrivals and expenditures since the start of the winter season.
In addition to meetings with industry professionals, Department of Tourism representatives gathered with members of the Houston Virgin Islands Association (HVIA) to share positive news and developments in both the territory and the diaspora.
Meeting just in advance of Transfer Day 2021, the department congratulated Houston Virgin Islands Association President Carol Cuffy and her leadership team for the outstanding work the association does in serving its membership and communities as well as in promoting the U.S. Virgin Islands as a travel destination. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner declared March 31 to be Houston Virgin Islands Association Day in Houston.
“Texas has been and will continue to be an extremely important market for travel to the USVI, and the department is pleased with the outcome of our engagement with travel industry stakeholders and our fellow Virgin Islanders during this activation,” said Boschulte, who commended the Houston Virgin Islands Association for its proactive efforts to promote and strengthen the USVI brand.
“With positive developments related to travel trends, the growing availability of COVID-19 vaccines, and demand for USVI getaways, the Department of Tourism has a strong charge to boost our sales, marketing, advertising and public relations activities,” said Boschulte.