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U.S. Virgin Islands Marks Impressive Year-End Achievements and Sets Ambitious Goals for 2024

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands, Dec. 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The U.S. Virgin Islands celebrates the end of 2023 with remarkable achievements and a vision for an even brighter future in 2024. Under the leadership of Joseph Boschulte, Commissioner of the Department of Tourism, the territory has made significant strides in several key areas.

In a year-over-year comparison, the U.S. Virgin Islands has continued to see robust revenue from the shared economy industry, reaching an impressive $343.4 million in 2023, a slight reduction from the record-setting figure of $360.53 million in the previous year. The hotel occupancy rate stands at a commendable 61.8% Hotel bookings within the territory also outpace the regional average daily rate (ADR) with a rate of $463.23, compared to $318.81 regionally. Additionally, the territory’s Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) continues to soar above regional standards.

The U.S. Virgin Islands played a prominent role in the Caribbean’s double-digit growth in tourism, with international arrivals projected to witness a remarkable 39% increase above 2019 levels in the fourth quarter of 2023. Also, extended stay visitors have seen a significant 25% rise.

While 2022 presented some challenges due to cross-industry constraints, including pilot and airplane shortages, the end-of-2023 projections for 2024 remain positive. Seat capacity has increased from the continental U.S. to 23% in St. Croix and 21% in St. Thomas, largely due to the strategy of maintaining strong relations with major carriers.

The Department of Tourism has expanded its strategic marketing efforts leading the way for the region into sports marketing garnering partnerships with renowned sports teams and entities, including the Boston Red Sox, New York Jets, Chicago Cubs, and Klutch Sports Group. Additionally, in the sports space the department has established ambassadorships with athletes who have familial ties to the territory including WNBA standout Aliyah Boston, Brooklyn Nets player Nic Claxton, Professional Golfer Alex Swain, and collegiate basketball standout Mervin James at Rider University. These partnerships, combined with additional innovation marketing including international carnival presence, in-person activations, digital footprints and public relations have contributed to a 21% increase in visitation to the territory from pre-COVID levels, as we continue to work towards making the U.S. Virgin Islands one of the top Caribbean destinations.

Commissioner Joseph Boschulte shared his enthusiasm, stating, “The U.S. Virgin Islands has shown resilience and adaptability, even in challenging times. As we enter 2024, we are excited to build on our success and focus on key areas that will further elevate our destination.”

Looking ahead to 2024, the U.S. Virgin Islands will continue to strengthen its presence in the sports and entertainment arenas, as well as continue to build out cultural correlation with the Caribbean diaspora.

The past year also marked successful elevation of the territory’s three Carnival celebrations featuring more revelers on each island and expansion of the Village Nights that spotlighted local talent including Pressure, Adam O, Star Martin and Karnage, Caribbean performers Machel Montano, Kes, Koffee, Alison Hinds, Patrice Roberts and more. Carnival’s success has opened the territory to opportunities for cultural exchanges with other islands in the region and African countries.

The Department of Tourism is committed to re-engaging with international markets, with a focus on Canada, Denmark, and Italy. By utilizing integrated marketing and international media partners to promote USVI as an ideal vacation destination.

For the coming year, the U.S. Virgin Islands will increase concentrate on:

  • Airlift: Engage in ongoing conversations with airline executives to increase airlift from the U.S. mainland for winter 2024-25. Restoration of international negotiations with airlines in Denmark, Italy, and Canada is a priority. Our focus is on adding flights to St. Croix from the United States, Canada, and Europe.
  • Cruise: The partnership with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) will help us to increase cruise calls, create new experiences, collaborate with the local private sector, and generate employment opportunities. Cruise passenger projections indicate an 80% rise through 2024, with nearly 650,000 new passengers expected.
  • Marine: Strengthen partnerships with marine stakeholders, expand marine experiences, and attract businesses to set up headquarters in the USVI. Collaboration with the Economic Development Authority (EDA) on marine initiatives and working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security to support increased marine development are key goals. We are excited to launch the Virgin Islands Boating Expo (VIBE) in 2024.
  • Film: The USVI aims to attract film production with its stunning landscapes and unique locations.

In 2023, the U.S. Virgin Islands and its Department of Tourism received numerous awards and accolades. These include being named the “Innovation Destination of the Year” for St. Thomas by Caribbean Journal. The Westin Beach Resort & Spa at Frenchman’s Reef was recognized as the “Best New Caribbean Hotel of the Year.” The territory also won the “Porthole Reader’s Choice Award” for “Best Caribbean Cruise Destination” and the Web Award for Outstanding Website” for visitUSVI.com

Additionally, the US Virgin Islands earned the “Brand USA Video Storytelling Award” for “Venturing Out: St Croix” and the “Gold HSMAI Adrian” award for its comprehensive marketing approach. The 2023 W3 Awards honored the US Virgin Islands with silver awards for “Campaigns-Brand Strategy for Marketing” and “Campaigns-Integrated Campaign for Marketing.”

The destination was also celebrated for its natural beauty and travel appeal, with Trunk Bay in St. John ranking as the “#6 World’s Best Beaches.” It was featured in Condé Nast Traveler’s list of the “Best Places to Go in 2023.” Travel + Leisure included the US Virgin Islands among the “50 Best 2023 Destinations” for beach lovers. Yahoo! Life recognized it as one of the “Top 10 Tropical Islands to Get to in Under Three Hours from the U.S. Mainland.” Travel Magazine named it the “Best Caribbean Cruise Destination for 2023,” and Frommer’s included it in the “Best Places to Go in 2023.”

As Commissioner Boschulte and the Tourism Team reflects on the past year’s achievements and sets his sights on an ambitious future, the U.S. Virgin Islands continues to stand as a destination of choice for travelers seeking natural beauty, cultural richness, and warm hospitality.

For more information about the U.S. Virgin Islands and its offerings, please visit https://www.visitusvi.com/.

About the U.S. Virgin Islands
About 40 miles east of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands comprise a United States territory located in the northeastern Caribbean Sea. The three islands are St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas, where the capital of Charlotte Amalie is located. Perfect for leisure or business travel, the U.S. Virgin Islands features breathtaking, world-renowned beaches, an international marine industry, European architecture, and a burgeoning restaurant industry. No passports are required from U.S. citizens traveling from the U.S. mainland or Puerto Rico. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are equivalent to entering the United States from any international country. Upon departure, a passport is required for non-U.S. citizens. For more information about the United States Virgin Islands, go to www.VisitUSVI.com, follow us on Instagram (@visitusvi) and Twitter (@usvitourism), and become a fan on Facebook (www.facebook.com/VisitUSVI). 

SOURCE U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism

Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/us-virgin-islands-marks-impressive-year-end-achievements-and-sets-ambitious-goals-for-2024-302020555.html
Images courtesy of https://pixabay.com

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