U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS — Despite a severe lashing from both Irma and Maria, the U.S. Virgin Islands is getting back to the business of welcoming visitors following the September storms.
Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty reported that the airports on St. Croix and St. Thomas are now open to commercial flights. Also, one of the flagship hotels on the island of St. Croix, The Buccaneer, has announced it is accepting reservations for leisure guests arriving on or after Nov. 1, 2017.
The historic property received minimal damage to its infrastructure and has remained open to accommodate relief personnel. While availability is limited due to many rooms being occupied by federal relief teams, the hotel will be fully operational and ready to welcome guests starting Nov. 1.
As for airlines returning to the islands, the Department of Tourism is continuing discussions with transportation partners, and has reported that JetBlue Airways is the latest U.S. carrier to resume commercial service to the Territory. This service is in addition to American Airlines’ operations at both the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas and the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix, as well as Delta Air Lines and Spirit Airlines service to and from St. Thomas.
As conditions improve, airline schedules are likely to normalize.
“We are working closely with our airline partners to ensure there are commercial flight services to meet the needs of our residents, businesses, visitors and the numerous professionals who are supporting the hurricane recovery,” said Commissioner Nicholson-Doty. “We will continue to advocate for expanded service as more of our hotel properties reopen and demand begins to grow in the marketplace,” she said.
In order to assess overall readiness of the destination to welcome visitors, the Department of Tourism has met with business leaders in the St. Croix and St. Thomas/St. John districts, and is in the process of conducting an assessment of hotels, attractions and other visitor-related businesses to determine the extent of damage, availability of power and water, and anticipated reopening dates.
Seaport facilities are open, and businesses and attractions are looking forward to welcoming cruise visitors in November.
The storms’ impact to the Territory’s hotel inventory was not as extensive in St. Croix as it was in St. Thomas and St. John.
While the cleanup process is underway in the town of Frederiksted on St. Croix, many dining establishments, stores and activities are up and running in Christiansted on the eastern side of the island. Similarly, shops, restaurants and attractions are ready to welcome customers in St. Thomas. The downtown Charlotte Amalie shopping area, including businesses on Main Street and at Havensight Mall, is ready to open, with power and water already restored. On St. John, efforts are ongoing to clear debris, restore infrastructure and reopen the Virgin Islands National Park.
Many of the Territory’s beaches are getting set to reopen in the weeks ahead, pending the completion of water quality testing by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.
For further information, visit usviupdate.com.